A favorite children's character of Baltimore residents has recently made some unfortunate headlines. Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind the character "Elmo," has become embroiled in a child sexual abuse scandal.
The sexual abuse claims began this fall when a 23-year-old man accused Clash of having a sexual relationship with him when he was only 16-years-old. Clash disputed the allegation, although he acknowledged having an adult relationship with the man. The 23-year-old man later retracted his claims, saying the relationship was adult and consensual.
However, the incident expanded from there, as new individuals came forward with similar claims against Clash. In particular, one 24-year-old man brought a lawsuit against Clash after learning of the other incidents. The man alleges an underage, but consensual, relationship occurred with Clash, but he thought the relationship was unique. Upon learning of the other incidents, the man came forward with his story.
While Clash continues to reject the allegations from any of the four men who have made claims, three of which have filed lawsuits, Clash resigned from his role as Elmo in the process. The 24-year-old man claims Clash groomed him for sexual encounters, and although the sexual activity was consensual, the man claims he was unaware of the harm being caused at the time.
The claims are fairly typical of sexual abuse claims alleging child injury. The lawsuits allege the boys were vulnerable and looking for a father figure when Clash turned their respective relationships into sexual ones.
The lawsuits seek damages between $75,000 and more than $5 million because of the injury the children sustained when they were not old enough to legally consent. Others in Baltimore and beyond who believe they are victims of sexual abuse may also wish to pursue legal action. Working with an experienced attorney is often a good first step.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Claims mount against Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo," Justin George, Dec. 26, 2012