Kevin Clash Update: Former Elmo puppeteer sued over crystal meth use and sex abuse allegations
(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - A man suing Kevin Clash said Tuesday that the former Elmo puppeteer lured him into drug-fueled sex when the alleged victim was 16 years old.
"I was taken advantage of by someone a lot older, and manipulated," said Sheldon Stephens, now 24, in a Manhattan news conference.
He said he met Clash at a networking event for models and actors. He was later brought by limousine from his Pennsylvania home to a New York apartment. This is where Clash, 52, allegedly smoked crystal meth while giving the teenager another recreational drug.
In a federal lawsuit filed Monday in Pennsylvania, Stephens accused Clash of sexual battery for childhood sexual abuse; travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct; and coercion and enticement to sexual activity. Stephens is asking for unspecified damages and coverage of his legal expenses.
Michael Berger, Clash's attorney, said in a statement Tuesday that his client denies any wrongdoing. He said Stephens already admitted he had an adult consensual relationship with Clash.
Three other men also are suing Clash, alleging underage sex. Clash resigned from "Sesame Street" in November 2012.
Stephens first made the allegations last year. His lawyer, Jeff Herman, said Stephens recanted over the possibility of a settlement, but none was ever reached. Herman said his client would not discuss details of any possible agreement.
Stephens said at the news conference that he was 22 when the relationship ended. He said he only took action after watching "Sesame Street" with his young nieces.
"When I started to realize my nieces were idolizing this character, it just disgusted me inside because I knew what had happened to me," Stephens said.
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