- - Monday, December 10, 2012

Another man on Monday sued the former Elmo puppeteer who resigned amid sex-abuse allegations, claiming the voice actor befriended him in Miami and promised to be a father figure before flying the teen to New York to have sex with him.

The alleged victim is now the fourth to accuse Kevin Clash, who resigned from “Sesame Street” last month after 28 years. The three legal actions filed so far have been civil cases seeking financial compensation.

But the incident with the latest victim, referred to only as S.M., could involve criminal charges because the lawsuit claims Mr. Clash transported him across state lines for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.

Lawyer Jeff Herman said he encouraged his client to report the incident to authorities, but it’s unclear if the now-33-year-old alleged victim has done so.

Sexual-abuse allegations against Mr. Clash triggered a media frenzy last month. He quickly denied the first claim, which was recanted the next day. But Mr. Clash then resigned after a 24-year-old college student, Cecil Singleton, sued him for $5 million, saying the actor engaged in sexual behavior with him when he was 15.

Mr. Singleton claims the voice actor met him in New York a dozen years ago after trolling gay telephone chat lines and seeking underage boys for sex.

In the latest case, the plaintiff said Mr. Clash approached him on Miami Beach, complimented his appearance and struck up a friendship. Mr. Clash returned home to New York, but stayed in touch with the teen, promising to be a dad to him. The youth, who was 16 or 17 at the time, had been molested by a teacher and was considering running away from home, according to the lawsuit.

“These are all vulnerable boys. None of them had father figures in their lives, and they were looking for that father figure,” said Mr. Herman, who represents three of the purported victims.

The lawsuit says Mr. Clash paid for a plane ticket from Florida to New York in 1996 and arranged for a car service to pick up the teen and bring him to his upscale apartment, where he gave him cash and showered him with “attention and affection” and ultimately engaged in numerous sexual acts.

Mr. Herman said he is poring over receipts and other documents to see if the car service was paid for by Mr. Clash’s employers at “Sesame Street.”

“We’re confident in the actions that we took, but because this is now an issue between litigants, we’re not going to comment further,” said Ellen Lewis, a publicist for “Sesame Street.”

Mr. Herman said he’s been contacted by several other possible victims and is vetting their cases.

‘The Young and the Restless’ hits ratings milestone

When “The Young and the Restless” climbed to the top of the daytime-drama ratings, there were 13 soap operas on the air. Now there are four.

The CBS drama just marked week No. 1,248, or 24 years, at the top, the Nielsen Co. said. The series about the fictional Wisconsin town of Genoa City has been on the air since 1973, and its inhabitants are doing a little celebrating.

“It’s definitely not something that we take for granted,” said Angelica McDaniel, senior vice president of daytime for CBS.

“The Young and the Restless” had nearly 4.4 million viewers last week. Its streak has been going on so long that Nielsen has no reliable estimates of the actual audience size when the victory streak began. CBS marks the victories in Nielsen’s household rating measurement, which estimates how many homes are tuned in to the show instead of viewers.

Although “The Young and the Restless” is the only one of the four soap operas where viewership is down compared with last year, there appears little immediate chance that another show will overtake it soon, said Carolyn Hinsey, a veteran chronicler of daytime dramas and author of “Afternoon Delight: Why Soaps Still Matter.”

CBS’ “The Bold and the Beautiful” is second in the ratings, and ABC’s “General Hospital,” while third, has been gaining viewers most rapidly, she said.

“The Young and the Restless” has a number of veteran actors that viewers are accustomed to, like Jeanne Cooper, Eric Braeden, Melody Thomas Scott and Peter Bergman.

“That provides a continuity that other soaps didn’t have,” Ms. Hinsey said, “and soap fans hate change.”

The show has long been the “best-looking” soap with its wardrobe, sets and makeup, she said.

“That makes it more of an escape than some other soaps,” she said.

The daytime-drama field, which also includes NBC’s “Days of Our Lives,” has been constricting over the past two decades, with fewer viewers at home to watch them and networks interested in less-expensive programming during the daytime.

Compiled from wire reports

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