(NaturalNews) EDITOR'S NOTE: IT WAS JUST REPORTED ON TUESDAY THAT CLASH IS RESIGNING AFTER A SECOND PERSON FILED A LAWSUIT OVER NEW SEXUAL ALLEGATIONS. HERE'S A LINK TO THE STORY: http://www.nydailynews.com)
Accusations of sexual misconduct recently brought forth against Kevin Clash, the iconic voice behind the famous Sesame Street character Elmo, were recanted almost as quickly and abruptly as they were first levied against Clash. Based on a surprising statement issued via his lawyers, the now-identified Sheldon Stephens claims his sexual relationship with Clash was both legal and consensual, contradicting his earlier claims that the relationship had begun before the now 23-year-old man turned 18 years old.
When the story first broke headlines, it appeared as though Clash may have actually been guilty of the charges brought against him, especially as private, seemingly-incriminating emails to Stephens began to surface from the archives of Clash's Sesame Street email account. As reported previously, Clash had apparently initiated what can only be described as intimate email exchanges with his former accuser on several occasions through his work email, which eventually led to disciplinary action being taken against him by Sesame Workshop, the group that manages Sesame Street.
After conducting an internal investigation; however, Sesame Workshop investigators claimed they came up with nothing else incriminating against Clash in terms of the molestation allegations. Even after interviewing both Clash and Stephens separately on numerous occasions, the non-profit group said it was unable to find any legitimate evidence to incriminate Clash.
Now, ABC News and many others are reporting that the case has officially died following the release of a statement by the accuser that nothing illicit ever occurred between him and Clash. Whether this statement was voluntarily given or coercively pressed by Sesame Workshop is questionable. But as it stands, Clash has been fully vindicated of the accusations raised against him, which Sesame Workshop presumably hopes will preserve the integrity of its beloved Elmo character.
"He wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship," read the statement issued by Stephens' representative, Andreozzi & Associates. "He will have no further comment on the matter."
At the same time, TMZ, which was one of the first sources to break the story, is now alleging that Stephens was coerced into making a $125,000 settlement agreement with Clash in exchange for denying his initial allegations. According to some reports, Stephens still personally attests to having been in an illicit relationship with Clash, and is now trying to legally undo his most recent claim to the contrary.
Clash is reportedly still taking a voluntary leave of absence in light of the controversy, and there has been no indication as to when he will be returning to Sesame Street.