The dragging of Elmo's name into the mud has begun again. With a lot less to lose than Kevin Clash (aka the voice of Elmo), the man behind Clash's underage sex allegations, Sheldon Stephens, apparently won't take the $125,000 settlement he already accepted, and is now sticking by his original story: that Clash had sex with him when he was 16.
Stephens "claims he was pressured into recanting it, and is now interviewing lawyers to help him undo his settlement," reads the report from TMZ this morning. TMZ has been with this case since the beginning, first breaking news of Stephens's allegations and legal action about a week ago. Since then, we've seen Clash take a leave of absence from Sesame Street, stumbled upon a few inappropriate e-mails, discovered via the Smoking Gun that Stephens was previously arrested for robbing $250,000 in jewelry from a music manager, and, after that, watched Stephens recant his story and settle for a settlement. And, after that, a long, journalistic debate at Poynter about how how much attention should be paid in repairing Clash's name.
No doubt, the recant and unsettling of the settlement makes it seem like Stephens might just be out for more money. But Stephens doesn't have nearly the same reputation on the line as Clash, who actually needs his child-friendly background to continue with a job he's had for years. And that all brings us to today with Stephens recanting his story, more damaging headlines connecting Elmo and his accuser, and more grief for Clash. And, well, this from TMZ: "Stephens -- who is now 23 -- is telling lawyers he will gladly forfeit the $125,000 to restore his name. Stephens is saying he was literally crying during the final negotiations and repeatedly said he didn't want to sign."