Accuser Recants Criminal Allegations Against Sesame Street Actor

Yesterday we reported the allegation brought against Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo, that he had had sex with a 16-year-old boy. Clash denied the allegation and insisted that the accused, now 23, was 18 when they started having an intimate relationship. (The age of consent in the state is 17). Now, the accuser has withdrawn the complaint and said that indeed it was an “adult consensual” relationship. The question is whether Clash should not sue the individual for defamation and whether, if the accuser gave a statement to the police, whether he should be prosecuted for a false police report.

The alleged victim says that Clash engaged in sexual acts with him when he was 16 and Clash was 45.
The case is interesting in that the accused went to the Sesame Workshop to report that alleged crime. The program stated that “In June of this year, Sesame Workshop received a communication from a young man who alleged that he had a relationship with Kevin Clash beginning when he was 16-years-old. This was a personal relationship, unrelated to the workplace. We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action.”

Clash issued the following statement:

“I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter. I had a relationship with the accuser. It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterize it as something other than what it was. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation.”

The accuser released his statement through his attorney in Harrisburg, Pa. The attorney stated that his client “wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship.” That is a bit late, isn’t it?

Even without a police report, the accuser clearly defamed Clash by stating that he had committed a crime and was guilty of moral turpitude. The allegation of homosexuality is not a good basis for an action not only because of Clash’s public statement but because of changes in society. I have long discussed this issue in my torts class. Common law torts has always treated statements alleging moral turpitude and unchastity as per se categories of defamation. Accusing someone of being gay was long treated as a per se defamatory statement. It was not only viewed as alleging sexual impropriety and immorality but it was a crime in many states. One of the leading cases occurred in 1952 in a New York lawsuit. In Neiman-Marcus v. Lait, 13 FRD 311 (SDNY 1952), employees of that high-end story sued the author of a book titled “U.S.A. Confidential.” The book claimed that some of the models at the story and all of the saleswomen in the Dallas store were “call girls.” It further stated that most of the salesmen in the men’s department were “faggots.” The issue came down to the size of the group. With 382 saleswomen and models, the court found that the group was too large. However, with the 25 salesmen, the court found that an action could be maintained.

However, this is an example of how common law definitions change with society. Not only has the Supreme Court struck down laws criminalizing homosexual relations, but gay and lesbian citizens are now open and accepted in most of our society.

It is the allegation of a crime against a minor that is a per se category of defamation.

Then there is the question of a possible false police report. As noted yesterday, it was a bit odd that he went to Sesame Street rather than the police. However, it is assumed that Sesame Street called the police. If the accuser made a false police report, he should be prosecuted. We have previously covered false rape cases and discussed how police often do not bring charges against the accusers despite their ruining the lives and reputations of the accused (here and here). This includes the infamous Duke Lacrosse case and Crystal Mangum. I remain completely astonished that prosecutors, after finding that she lied about the rape, refused to prosecute her for the false claims. Ironically, the 2006 case was taken from the Durham D.A. Mike Nifong because he violated ethical rules and politicized the prosecution. Yet, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper took the politically expedient move of refusing to indict Mangum. The result was that she was allowed to ruin the lives of players like David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann and seek their long incarceration on false charges — only to be given a pass by the system.

This latest false accuser appears unlikely to face any repercussions for his actions. He remains anonymous so he will not even face public identification, let alone public prosecution. I am happy for Clash in being cleared of these allegations but a lawsuit might help deter others who seek to ruin former lovers with criminal allegations.

Source: CNN

20 thoughts on “Accuser Recants Criminal Allegations Against Sesame Street Actor

  1. I could go back to my comment from yesterdays posting – we will never know. It might be that the kid is still in love and does not want to hurt Clash. But it might also be a cry for attention or an outright extortion attempt. It ain’t pretty and it is sad these things seem to be ‘adjudicated’ in public

  2. I’m not sure if there is a woeful lack of information, or if the barn door is permanently broken and the cows are permanently roaming free.

    Today it seems as Mr Clash has acted responsibly and properly, and his past activities are of no concern to the public.
    Yesterday Mr Clash was about to be tied and lashed above a pyre of negative public opinion.

    Assuming that Mr Clash is honest and correct this story should go away.

  3. Clearly a defamation claim is called for here. The problem, as is often the case, is that the cost of bringing a lawsuit is likely more than the benefits. The only thing the civil system can give Clash is a money judgement against the accuser. But, it’s unlikely that the 23 y/o accuser has significant collectible assets. And, he just draws more attention the allegation and goes through the hassle of a lawsuit. Looks like a defamation claim is likely all downside for him with no upside, unless he wants to punish the accuser at the cost of his own effort, time, money (?), emotional investment and increased attention to the allegation.

    As for whether the accuser should be prosecuted by the state for a false statement to the police, I’d say absolutely yes if that happened. But, as you note, it appears he went to Clash’s employer rather than the police. I’m kinda skeptical the government could or even should try to make that charge stick under those facts. That may explain why his story changed today–he’s getting questioned by the police and realized the stakes were raised for him personally if he continued to lie about what happened.

  4. They broke this story a day late. The perp accusor was trying to derail Big Bird and Obama and sway voters to vote for the Willard. But Elmo did not do anything and Big Bird knew nuthing and if it was Elmo’s handler then that is several steps away from Big Bird so Obama would have been in the clear and still won Florida. As it was, the story broke a day or so too late so the kid called off the accusation and admitted that when he turned 18 he was “up and out”. And now that he is outted he needs to apologize to Elmo for the lie he said about Elmo’s handler.

  5. That person sure as ____ better recant what he wanted to do. it is not anyone business who has sex with who anyway. The hatred against people who have sex with whatever age has to stop. We don’t need anymore grusom murders caused by people harboring hate in them having it fester in them until it explodes.

  6. There is a real Clash here.

    Just give him the Big Bird and move on.

    Everyone who wants to get inside the beltway talks like that before an erection on Sesame Street where Our Lords Live.

    Just ask Groper who now lives in the can with Davy “The Pet” Petraeus, who said of Paula “Broad Bio” Broadwell, “she wanted to know all about me you know, and I Generally aim to please all broads well”.

  7. I was suspicious as to the legitimacy of this from the beginning. I agree a defamation suit is in order. Especially when the other man went to Mr. Cash’s employer to allege the illegal act when his employer provides him with an income and is directly related to TV programming for children. That made Mr. Cash especially vulnerable to blacklisting.

  8. The second set of allegations appear to be more serious. Now I am beginning to wonder about the first accuser recanting so quickly.

  9. Elmo Actor Slapped With Third Claim of Sex With Teenage Boys

    “Sesame Street” star Kevin Clash invited a 16-year-old boy to an apartment decorated with Elmo toys for sexual encounters, a third accuser says in Federal Court.

    Named in the complaint as “D.O.” and “John,” the plaintiff says he met Clash while trying to pursue a modeling career in New York.

    John, now 27 or 28, is represented by the same lawyers behind Kevin Singleton, who last week accused Clash of “preying on teenage boys to satisfy his depraved sexual interests.”

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