The Insider is sitting down exclusively for the first interview with Sheldon Stephens, the man who first claimed, then recanted, that he had an underage sexual relationship with Kevin Clash, the former voice of Sesame Street's Elmo.
Stephens reveals, "I would like to say my name has been unfairly dragged through the media and it made me look like a monster. The whole world reacted in such a negative way and they haven't really gotten a chance to know who I am and to even ask the right questions to figure out what kind of person I am. Rather, they reacted off of hearsay and rumors and speculation of the whole situation. The biggest misconception about me is that I'm a liar, extortionist."
Reports surfaced that Stephens claimed he had sexual relations with Clash, 52, when he was just 16, but later, via his lawyer, Stephens told the New York Times that his past relationship with the puppeteer was in fact, an "adult consensual" one. Clash initially said about Stephens' accusation, "I had a relationship with the accuser," adding, "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."
Clash resigned from Sesame Street this week, and a second man claimed that he had been involved with Clash when he was underage.
After Clash's resignation, Sesame's Workshop released a statement regarding Clash's departure, reading: "Sesame Workshop’s mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential. Kevin Clash has helped us achieve that mission for 28 years, and none of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street. This is a sad day for Sesame Street."
Clash also released a statement that reads: "I am resigning from Sesame Workshop with a very heavy heart. I have loved every day of my 28 years working for this exceptional organization. Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately."
Tune in to The Insider tonight for more of Stephens' revealing interview.
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