By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun
6:30 PM EDT, April 2, 2013
A fifth man has filed a lawsuit against Kevin Clash, the former voice of Elmo on "Sesame Street," making sex abuse allegations similar to those of four other plaintiffs.
Kevin Kiadii, now 25, of New York, alleges that he was 16 when he and Clash engaged in sexual contact after meeting on a gay phone chat line. According to the lawsuit, Clash initiated contact with Kiadii on the chat line in 2004, invited him to his New York apartment and sent a luxury car service to pick Kiadii up in Brooklyn.
"Upon his arrival, Kevin Clash gave Kiadii alcohol and groomed him with attention and affection," the lawsuit says.
The sex was consensual, the lawsuit says, but "as a 16-year-old child, Kiadii was not emotionally or psychologically prepared for a sexual relationship with a grown man in his forties."
Kiadii's lawsuit was filed in New York and seeks undisclosed damages. The age of consent in New York is 17.
Kiadii is represented by Miami attorney Jeff Herman, who also represents the four others who have filed lawsuits against Clash since November. Last month, Sheldon Stephens, the first man to allege that Clash had a relationship with him when he was underage, filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania.
Clash, 52, who grew up in Turners Station, has previously denied all allegations repeatedly through his attorney. Michael G. Berger of New York did not reply to an email Tuesday. Berger has called the previous cases "meritless" and has asked a New York judge to throw out the lawsuits, citing the state's statute of limitations for filing civil complaints over alleged abuses.
Clash resigned from "Sesame Street" in November after Cecil Singleton, a 24-year-old New Yorker, became his second accuser and the first to file suit against him. Two others filed later; they are identified in complaints only by initials.
All five accusers say that the sex was consensual but that they were not old enough to legally consent to or comprehend the relationships, which they allege took place in New York and Florida and date to 1995.
"The allegations in this lawsuit follow the same pattern we've seen before," Herman said in a statement. "Each of these victims alleges that Kevin Clash was a father figure who groomed them with attention before engaging them in sexual contact. By coming forward and standing up for his 16-year-old self, Kevin Kiadii has taken the first step in his healing process."
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