Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash reportedly paid his accuser $125,000 in the hours before the man recanted his accusations, according to TMZ.
Sheldon Stephens made headlines around the world when he stated he’d been in a sexual relationship with Kevin Clash since the age of 16. Shortly after the allegations surfaced, Clash took leave from the television program Sesame Street in order to properly deal with the situation.
TMZ reports that the voice of Elmo paid Stephens $125,000 if he would publicly recant the allegations that their relationship began when Sheldon was just a minor. The settlement was reportedly reached mere hours before Stephens came forward with the truth.
“Stephens agrees that immediately upon execution of this Agreement, his counsel, Andreozzi & Associates, P.C., shall release the [following] statement … ‘He [Stephens] wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship,” reads the settlement.
However, Stephens maintains the sexual relationship with Clash began when he was just 16. He also stated that he was forced by the Elmo puppeteer to sign the documents. Reports suggest that Stephens was even crying during his meeting with Clash’s lawyers.
According to ABC News, Kevin Clash denied having a relationship with Stephens while he was underage. To address the issue, the puppeteer issued a statement on the matter earlier this week.
“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,” Clash explained. “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.”
Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash and his lawyers have yet to comment on the story.