Sex crime allegations dropped, others raised against Elmo puppeteer

Far too often, people who make sex crime allegations have ulterior motives. Such motives include everything from a desire for publicity or notoriety to seeking advantage in a child custody dispute or even vengeance.

Although some of these motives may be hard to believe, when there is no evidence other than the accuser’s word, accusations of sex crimes often need to be taken with a grain of salt. This is especially true when the events happened a long time ago, because people’s memories do change. Often, a criminal defense attorney is the only person willing to be skeptical about such claims, though, because they are so serious and, if true, often heartbreaking.

Recently Kevin Clash, the man behind the voice of Sesame Street’s Elmo was accused of statutory rape. Clash, a divorced 52-year-old father who is gay, admits he was involved at one time in a consensual sexual relationship with the man who accused him of the sex crime. His accuser claimed that Clash had sex with him when he was 16 — under the legal age of consent.

Only a week later, Kevin Clash’s accuser has recanted his story in exchange for a $125,000 settlement. Most recently, however, the man has once again changed his story, which leaves his integrity in doubt.

Questions do have to be asked. If these allegations are true, why did it take the now 24-year-old man eight years to come forward? If he was seeking justice, why would he change his story in exchange for a monetary settlement? If he was seeking compensation, why didn’t he handle it privately? Which of the two men is more credible?

Meanwhile, Clash was on unpaid leave from his job at Sesame Street pending the investigation. Unfortunately, a new accuser has come forward with additional allegations of underage sex against the puppeteer. Clash has now resigned.

While the additional allegations may seem to imply that the original ones were true, it is very difficult to tell when dealing with a highly-publicized story about a celebrity. Just as there are copycat criminals, there are often copycat “victims” who come forward once a celebrity is accused. Part of the investigation of these further allegations will be the long process of sorting out any truth from what may be false allegations by publicity hounds or others seeking a financial benefit from making the accusations.

While sex crimes are among those our society considers the most serious, false allegations are incredibly damaging, and not only to celebrities. If you have been falsely accused of being in a non-consensual sexual relationship with another person in Minnesota, you should take immediate steps to defend your rights and your reputation.

Source: New York Post, “‘Elmo’ puppeteer Kevin Clash resigns as second man files lawsuit over new underage sex allegations,” Robert Gearty, Kerry Burke, Philip Caulfield and Larry Mcshane, Nov. 20, 2012

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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