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Voice of Elmo Accused of Sex With Minor
Aired November 12, 2012 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Breaking news tonight. Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie, Elmo -- millions and millions of children growing up with the hit TV show "Sesame Street." Bombshell tonight. In the last hours, it all comes to a screeching halt. Tonight, allegations the voice of Elmo accused of sex assault on a teen boy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The guy who is the voice of Elmo is on leave now because of serious accusations.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The story of the man behind elm Elmo. His name is Kevin Clash.
ELMO: Elmo`s always excited about "Sesame Street"!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The makers of "Sesame Street" confirmed that a 23-year-old man accuses Kevin Clash of having a sexual relationship with him when the accuser was only 16.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) about puppeteering and Muppets?
KEVIN CLASH, VOICE OF ELMO: You know, just the fascination of it, just that the -- you know, the animated -- the way they looked and the fun- ness (ph) of them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Elmo appeals to so many different demographics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has been so unbelievably huge.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sesame Workshop says Clash denies any wrongdoing and called the accusation false and defamatory.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not just about doing the voice of the character. It`s actually, you know, creating the character, bringing it to life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us. Bombshell tonight. Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie, Elmo -- millions of children grew up with the hit TV show "Sesame Street." But in the last hours, it all comes to a screeching halt, allegations the voice of Elmo accused of sex assault on a teen boy.
I`ve got a lot of questions surrounding these allegations. First to you, Nischelle Turner, CNN correspondent. What do we know tonight, Nischelle?
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Nancy, there`s a lot of information that`s coming out about this story, which we should say, and it`s developing as we speak. What we do know is this story came about after a 23-year-old man went to the...
GRACE: Whoa! Whoa!
TURNER: ... executives at "Sesame Street"...
GRACE: Whoa! Wait! Nischelle...
GRACE: Did I just hear you say 23 years old -- 23, 2-3?
TURNER: Yes. The man is 23 years old, Nancy. His allegations are that he had this relationship with Kevin Clash when he was 16. That`s where this whole thing...
GRACE: Put -- put -- put...
TURNER: ... comes about.
GRACE: ... Nischelle Turner up, please. Nischelle...
GRACE: Let me just get one thing straight. The alleged victim is currently 23 years old?
GRACE: Is there a police report? Did he go to police?
TURNER: No, he did not go to police. And that`s why this is kind of sticky here, Nancy, and that`s why all of this information is still being sorted out. These allegations first came to light back in June. That`s when he went to "Sesame Street" with these allegations that he had...
TURNER: ... what he calls an inappropriate...
GRACE: Goes to "Sesame Street"?
TURNER: ... sexual relationship.
GRACE: So he goes to Elmo`s boss? He goes to Elmo`s boss when he claims...
GRACE: ... he was, what, either raped or sodomized as a teen boy, and he is now 23 years old and he doesn`t go to police. He goes to Elmo`s boss? Explain.
TURNER: Yes. Well, he went to them and said he wanted them to know that he had an inappropriate relationship with Kevin Clash, who is the voice of Elmo. He says this happened when he was a 16-year-old boy.
Now, Kevin Clash says, Nancy...
GRACE: Well, I thought...
TURNER: ... that he did have a relationship with this boy, but he says he didn`t have the relationship until the boy was an adult. He says the relationship started after the boy became 18 years old.
GRACE: All right, Matt Zarrell, I keep hearing the word "relationship." So a 23-year-old man calls "Sesame Street" productions and rats out Elmo, claiming Elmo, the voice behind Elmo, had a sex relationship with him when he was 16.
Now, I believe that would have been in New York, and the age of consent in New York is 17. Typically, there`s a five-year statute of limitations, but it can start running at age 18 which -- let me get this straight -- this man, a 23-year-old man, is describing a sex relationship with Elmo that happened what, seven years ago and he`s just falling under the statute of limitations?
MATT ZARRELL, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER (via telephone): Yes, Nancy. This would be his last year, if he were to go to police. This would be the last year he could file if it applies, correct.
GRACE: File civil or criminal charges, Matt Zarrell? Which one?
GRACE: OK, so they both have a five-year statute starting at age 18?
ZARRELL: Yes. There are criminal charges, including rape in the first degree, criminal sexual act in the first degree, aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree, and sexual conduct against a child in the first degree. Those have no limitation on them.
GRACE: Out to Jean Casarez, legal correspondent, "In Session." Jean, give me the rest of the facts.
JEAN CASAREZ, "IN SESSION": Well, you know, I think the basic facts have to be repeated here because this 23-year-old man went to "Sesame Street," and "Sesame Street" took it upon themselves to be the judge and the jury in all of this, and they determined that there was no veracity from what this young man was saying.
You know, Nancy, we are now in the era of the Jerry Sandusky case. We are in an era where young men have not come forward before because they have been too scared, and this young man right here -- that could have propelled him to come forward to tell the truth.
GRACE: So Jean Casarez, is it true that this 23-year-old man hires one of Sandusky`s victim`s lawyer?
CASAREZ: After "Sesame Street" found no foundation for what he was telling them, he then went and got a lawyer.
GRACE: OK. Jean, did he ever file a police report? Because you`re saying the Sandusky case gave him the courage to come forward to Elmo`s boss?
GRACE: Why not come forward to the police? That`s where I`m getting the disconnect. You come forward to Elmo`s boss?
CASAREZ: And that`s a good point right there. Why would you go forth to the employer who employs who you say committed a crime upon you?
I think we need to see back seven years ago -- and we don`t know everything now. Back seven years ago, were there any written communications that he gave to anyone? Did he tell anyone? Is there anyone that can substantiate the claim? We know, based upon the statement from "Sesame Street," there were e-mails that "Sesame Street" found to be inappropriate and they sanctioned this man for that.
GRACE: Well, any time you use your -- PS to everybody out there. We`re talking about Elmo on "Sesame Street," the voice of Elmo. In the last hours, the 23-year-old man says -- he describes it as a relationship. This sex relationship allegedly happened seven years ago when the man was 16 years old. He has hired one of Sandusky`s victim`s lawyers to represent him.
And he is claiming, does he not -- out to you, Nischelle Turner, CNN correspondent. Isn`t the alleged victim saying that there is an e-mail where Elmo admits to the relationship, that the guy was 16 at the time?
TURNER: That`s one of the things that has been reported, that there is this e-mail out there that says that. Now, Sesame Workshop says they investigated this claim and they did not find any substantiated evidence that that was, in fact, what happened.
And Jean was just talking about the reason that Kevin Clash was sanctioned because of the e-mails. Sesame Workshop is saying, We reprimanded him because he was using company e-mail for a personal relationship. So they`re not saying...
GRACE: Well, any time...
TURNER: ... that it was because it was inappropriate.
GRACE: I`ve got it. Any time you are using your company laptop, mainframe, Blackberry, your boss has a right to look at your e-mails. It`s their computer, not yours. It`s their Blackberry, not yours. They have a right to monitor your e-mail communications. And any time you`re doing something personal on those e-mail communications, that`s probably going to be against company policy.
We`re taking your calls. Sarah in Virginia. Hi, Sarah. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. My question is -- well, first of all, I`ve met Kevin Clash and he seemed like a nice man. But my question is, why does this person go to Sesame Workshop? Why not go to the police? Because it seems like if he`s going straight to Sesame Workshop, maybe he wanted money to keep quiet. Why not go to the police, get your lawyer then, take legal action? Why go straight to Sesame Workshop and let them do an investigation? That`s where I`m confused.
GRACE: What do we know, Jean?
CASAREZ: We know that he went to Sesame Street workshop. I have to compare it to the Jerry Sandusky case. Those 10 victims, not one went to the police. They were young. They were little boys. Their mothers went to the school. Their mothers went to police. But not one of them went to the police at 16 years of age.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLASH: When I was 9 years old, it was just a dream that I had. Wow, I wish that I could work with the Muppets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just tickle Elmo, and he really talks!
ELMO: That tickles. That tickles.
CLASH: Hi. This is Kevin Clash from "Sesame Street." How are you?
ELMO: Elmo`s always excited about "Sesame Street"!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you ticklish?
ELMO: Elmo is ticklish!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To make a piece of fabric react like a human being would. But Kevin, oh, my gosh, he`s brilliant.
ELMO: Elmo is happy now. Miss Halle Berry!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh! She is gorgeous!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, little fish. OK. Now, let`s watch this little fish nibble on this sandwich.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did she give you a little kiss?
ELMO: Yes, she did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of like -- kind of like this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, I`m no Halle Berry, but I get to kiss Elmo. Thank you so much for calming (ph) down. We`ll be watching!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Thanks, Elmo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: You`re seeing video from the documentary "Being Elmo" off YouTube.
We`re taking your calls. In the last hours, it`s all come to a screeching halt, Sesame Workshop, that is, after Elmo, the voice of Elmo, accused of sex with a teen boy. Now, this alleged, as he describes it, relationship occurred seven years ago. The now 23-year-old young man has come forward to not police, not investigators, not a molestation crisis line, but to Elmo`s boss, "Sesame Street." Why?
There is talk about an e-mail that claims to show that Elmo admits to the relationship with a 16-year-old boy. Is that for real? I don`t know.
We are taking your calls. I want to go out to Marc Klaas, president and founder of Klaas Kids Foundation. Weigh in, Marc.
MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: Well, sure. I mean, having the "Sesame Street" workshop investigate this allegation is just like, as Jean pointed out, having the University investigate allegations against Sandusky or the bishop investigate allegations against the parish priest.
There is a built-in conflict of interest, and we will never get to the truth as long as that exists. This is a perfect instance of needing to bring in an independent organization with the skills and experience to get to the bottom of these allegations, and that would be the FBI. Until they`re brought in, I think that everything...
GRACE: Well, what about the police?
KLAAS: ... that`s on the table is really baseless.
GRACE: What about the police?
KLAAS: The police -- the police would bring in the FBI. Listen, "Sesame Street" is well funded by public money through PBS, so there`s an absolute reason to bring a federal agency into this. The FBI has more investigative resource and more experience in investigating these types of situations than probably any other agency on the face of the earth.
GRACE: Marc Klaas, do you see any problem with the fact that instead of going to police, the 23-year-old man goes to Elmo`s boss?
KLAAS: Well, I think I see as much of a problem with that as I see of Elmo`s boss not going directly to the police with these allegations. By holding an in-house investigation and then saying that they find nothing to it, I think stinks to high heaven, whether it`s true or not.
GRACE: So I`m taking that...
KLAAS: ... supposed to be investigated.
GRACE: I agree with that.
KLAAS: Pardon me?
GRACE: I agree with you, but I`m taking your answer to be that, yes, you have a problem with a 23-year-old man going to Elmo`s boss instead of going to police...
GRACE: ... about a molestation that allegedly happened seven years before, and this basically on the eve of the statute of limitations running.
Matt Zarrell, what kind of money are we talking about? What is Elmo worth?
ZARRELL: Well, there are reports that the sales just from the Elmo merchandise alone has soared nearly $400 million since the introduction of the Tickle Me Elmo doll. The Sesame Workshop receives nearly $50,000 in royalties just from merchandise alone last year. And Nancy, that doesn`t even include Clash`s net worth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELMO: You did it again!
CLASH: It`s not just about doing a voice of a character, it`s actually, you know, creating the character and bringing it to life.
If everybody else your age is doing something very different than what you`re doing, there`s always going to be someone saying that you might not succeed, you might not make any money with that. All of those things will go away if you really focus on what makes you happy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) None other than Elmo.
ELMO: Hi. That tickles!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You made time for us today.
ELMO: Oh, yes, (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am so excited about this interview!
ELMO: Elmo, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re going to get it started. You have to make sure you`re camera-ready. So we got to get this here, a little bit of powder, and Judy, a little bit of hairspray. Do you think you can take care of that? And we`ll head upstairs, Elmo, to get this started.
ELMO: OK. Cool! Look at us. We look really good now with all our makeup on and stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes. (INAUDIBLE) such a good job in hair and makeup. Such a good job?
ELMO: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, there, Elmo. Anyway, I`m here to talk about happy and sad. And the first thing about happy...
ELMO: (INAUDIBLE) with Elmo?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, Elmo. I`m afraid I`m too busy right now. I can`t play with you. Now, the difference between happy and sad is the fact that happy...
ELMO: (INAUDIBLE) not play with Elmo?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, no, Elmo. Not right now.
ELMO: Oh! Elmo sad green (ph) frog (ph) no play with Elmo!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but...
ELMO: Oh, make Elmo very sad. Elmo very sad. Very, very sad. (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A chicken? You want me to play basketball against a chicken.
ELMO: He was really tall.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh! Well, you know what? Everyone`s taller than you, Elmo.
ELMO: That`s true. Elmo`s OK with that. This is a musical (INAUDIBLE) sing it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got you. (SINGING) It doesn`t matter if you win or lose, it`s how you play the game.
ELMO: (SINGING) The thing to do is to try your best. That should be every athlete`s game. Sometimes you`re high, sometimes you`re low. You just keep on trying. It doesn`t matter if you win or lose, it`s how you play the game.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Elmo, it`s been such a treat.
ELMO: Thanks for having me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You made some time for us today. We appreciate it. Thank you so much. And we`ll be watching. A huge season ahead on "Sesame Street." Are you ticklish?
ELMO: Elmo is ticklish!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ll be watching. Thanks, Elmo.
ELMO: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: We are taking your calls. "Sesame Street" comes to a screeching halt after claims in the last hours that Elmo, the voice behind Elmo, engaged in sex with a teen boy.
Now let me put that picture in the frame of the allegations. This 23- year-old man claims that this sex relationship -- that`s his word, not mine -- this relationship occurred seven years ago. He does not go to police. He goes to Elmo`s boss, "Sesame Street." Why? Is it for real or is it a shakedown?
Let`s talk to a special guest, Christopher Anderson. Christopher was abused with by a male neighbor when he was only 8 years old. Christopher, thank you for being with us.
CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON, ABUSED AT 8 (via telephone): Thank you for having me on, Nancy. I appreciate it.
GRACE: Christopher, you`re a grown man now. When you look back on what happened to you, what is your reaction?
ANDERSON: Well, it`s very -- it`s very important to point out that whatever the motivations, whatever the reasons are behind the way this story has come out, we need to be sure that we understand that this is a young man who has been struggling with a lot of shame and a lot of pain for quite some time.
There`s a lot of -- there are a lot of questions that are still out. Some of them, you`ve been asking, which I would like to get the answers to, as well. But I can tell you, whenever these kinds of stories come up, one of the first things that we need to be mindful of is these are situations where even if people call it a relationship, it`s a relationship that`s dominated by an imbalance of power. And oftentimes, the survivors feel a tremendous weight and burden of shame and pain over what they`ve gone through.
GRACE: Christopher, can I ask you when you first told someone that your neighbor had molested you?
ANDERSON: It took me a very, very long time. I never -- I didn`t actually come forward and start talking about this until I was approximately 30. And we know that, oftentimes, it takes many male survivors upwards of 10 to 20 years to finally disclose and start seeking the help they need to begin a healing process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sesame Workshop says Clash denies any wrongdoing and calls the accusation false and defamatory.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you excited about the new season of "Sesame Street"?
ELMO: Elmo`s always excited about "Sesame Street"!
CLASH: I knew that Elmo should represent love.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you`ve been the voice of Elmo for how many years, 20?
CLASH: I`d say about, oh -- yes, over 20 years now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It says that it met with the accuser, and it believes the allegation to be unsubstantiated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: We are taking your calls. In the last hours, an institution, "Sesame Street," brought to its knees after claims Elmo, the voice behind Elmo, had sex with a child, granted seven years ago, the alleged victim now 23 years old, did not go to police, instead goes to Elmo`s boss. Is it for real?
We are taking your calls. But unleash the lawyers. With me, defense lawyer Marla Chicotsky, Miami, Nishay Sanan, Chicago.
Weigh in, Marla.
MARLA CHICOTSKY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think that Tickle-Me-Elmo, unfortunately, might be living up to his name, Nancy. You of al people should know that victims have a very hard time coming forward with these types of allegations. They`re very sensitive. They feel like they`ve done something wrong when, in fact, it`s the older person that`s the predator and actually, you know, is guilty potentially in this case.
So going to "Sesame Street" like Mr. Klaas said is a very conflicted in-house counsel investigation. Of course they`re going to believe him. He`s the puppet master. He`s an executive producer. There`s a huge, huge conflict of interest there.
GRACE: Well, my concern, Nishay, is that instead of going to police he goes to Elmo`s employer. Why?
NISHAY SANAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think he went to hopefully do the right thing. But the problem is he`s going to corporate America. You have the Sesame Workshop that`s a huge organization.
GRACE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Whoa, whoa. What do you mean the right thing? You go to police.
SANAN: Well, the right thing is to come forward, no different than the Sandusky case when these individuals went to the school. Here he goes to Sesame Workshop who`s the parent company of Elmo. What happens there`s this internal investigation. And there`s probably a good chance that Big Bird and Nacho the Grouch threatened this kid, even though he`s 23 years old, to keep his mouth shut until their investigation is done. We don`t know what they told him. That`s what we need to find out when he comes out.
GRACE: Jean Casarez, we keep comparing this to Sandusky`s case. Did the victims actually go to police in that case, Jean?
JEAN CASAREZ, LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": The victims ultimately had to go to police, but they didn`t originally, and, Nancy, victim number four on the standard sentencing cried through his tears, begged the forgiveness of the other victims saying, I didn`t come forward to help stop you from being abused and for that please forgive me. Maybe his motive was to just go to the employer to try to have this stopped.
GRACE: OK. To Dr. Ann Contrucci, physician joining me out of Atlanta, you deal with children in the emergency room day in, day out, Dr. Ann. Is there any way there will be any physical evidence at this point juncture to prove the case?
DR. ANN CONTRUCCI, PHYSICIAN: No, Nancy. Not likely at all. This is something that happened -- potentially happened seven years ago. We deal with a lot of sexual abuse, unfortunately. And actually this is something a lot of people don`t realize because I get asked this question all the time. Parents bring a concern to the E.R., I`m concerned that, you know, so and so may have sexually abused my child or daycare or whatever, neighbor, uncle or whatever, and 90 to 95 percent of the time we have absolutely no physical evidence because of the nature of the abuse.
Unless it`s an all-out rape, it`s very, very difficult to have physical evidence. That`s what makes these cases so heartbreaking because you have children involved. You have children`s words against adults` words, and, you know, I think I want -- I want to comment on the whole, why did it take him so long to come to light with this. I think it has to be taken seriously whether he should have gone to the police or not first. I mean I have to agree he should have gone to the police.
However, especially for males, it has been shown that it is very, very difficult. Your guest that was so gracious a little while ago saying, you know, it took years for him to even admit that he had been abused, so this is -- this is a terrible situation and I think it`s something that just has to be taken seriously but I think, again, physical evidence is very, very difficult to find in these kinds of cases.
GRACE: You said it would be hard unless there had been an outright rape. If it had been an outright rape, Dr. Contrucci, now seven years later, would that be able to be determined?
CONTRUCCI: No. There`s not going to be any evidence whatsoever this long after.
GRACE: OK. Dr. Ann, if the parents had taken this young man to the doctor, wouldn`t there still be some type of written document on file outlining his injuries?
CONTRUCCI: You mean from -- from seven years ago?
CONTRUCCI: Oh, yes. If there had been -- right, if there had been, you know, sodomy, if it had been -- if he`d been taken in within a certain amount of time because things in that area heal very quickly actually. And you have to get examined within a certain amount of time. It has to be a proper type of forensic exam, that kind of thing.
GRACE: Also with us psychotherapist out of New York, Lauren Howard.
Lauren, weigh in.
LAUREN HOWARD, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: You know, I`m having a little bit of trouble comparing this to Sandusky. Sandusky was a coach, he was in a leadership position with boys. This man was not in a leadership position with this young man who is making this accusation. I just don`t see the parallel and as much as the -- you know, the fact that he hired Sandusky`s lawyer, I think that doesn`t really pass the smell test.
I agree with what Jean Casarez said that the Sandusky case does make things -- people come out of the woodwork to tell the truth, but it also makes people come out of the woodwork to tell a lie there`s -- until this is confounded, you know, my big problem, Nancy, this guy, allegations are made against him, guess what, he`s -- he`s now besmirched. Elmo is besmirched. He`s an actor. He`s not Elmo.
I mean all of a sudden "Sesame Street" is the bad guy. We don`t know anything. We don`t know who the bad guy is. We don`t know if there is a bad guy. The only thing we know for sure is that Kevin Clash`s reputation has been tarnished immeasurably.
GRACE: You know, Lauren, I always, almost always, having been a crime victim, leap to the defense of whoever I perceive to be a crime victim.
HOWARD: Of course.
GRACE: And if this is true, then Elmo can rot in hell. But I have a problem. My main problem is I want the truth, Lauren. I don`t want to burn somebody at the witch`s stake.
GRACE: I want the truth.
GRACE: And when you`re 23 years old and you know something bad has happened to you, why doesn`t you go to police?
GRACE: Why do you go to a multimillion-dollar franchise.
HOWARD: Exactly right.
GRACE: And tell them?
HOWARD: It does not pass the smell test.
GRACE: That`s my problem right there. I`m not arguing -- and back to you, Christopher Anderson. You are a grown man. You were abused by a neighbor that your family probably trusted or knew when you were just a tiny little boy. A little bit older than my little boy and girl are right now. And it took you over 20 years to even speak of it.
I hear you. I`m a crime victim, too. Just the way this whole thing has played out is concerning me regarding the truth of these allegations.
CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON, WAS ABUSED BY MAKE NEIGHBOR AT THE AGE OF 8: I think, I think what you`re saying is absolutely valid on a lot of levels, Nancy, and I think it`s very important as a number of your other guests had pointed out, this is one of the reasons why it`s very important to try to take a step back and actually get to the truth of these allegations and it`s always important for when circumstances like this come up, when claims like this are made. I think it`s so important.
We have to be very careful not to attack the victims. Not to attack the accusers until we know what is actually the truth of these circumstances.
I can tell you as somebody who has -- who is a sexual abuse survivor myself, it`s very difficult when you are struggling in the midst of the shame and the shadows and the pain to be able to think about it dispassionately and know who the right person to come forward to is. And oftentimes we don`t know. Maybe the survivor actually did try to go to the police and was actually rebuffed because there was no physical evidence that he could bring forward at that time.
You know, there are just too many open questions that I really want to caution us to be very, very careful, to be mindful that this is not a circumstance where we need to jump to conclusions about who this person is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you excited about the new season of "Sesame Street"?
ELMO, SESAME STREET CHARACTER: Elmo is always excited about "Sesame Street."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have such a busy season, so many surprises. Musicals, I hear?
ELMO: Yes. "Elmo the Musical." There are so many wonderful friends that come and visit us. Mr. Steven Carrel, Mr. John Ham.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow. He`s handsome.
ELMO: Train. We got to sing with them and the cast got to sing with them, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Millions of children, including my own, growing up with Elmo. Two of their prized possessions, one for John David, one for Lucy, are signed photographs from Elmo. The voice of Elmo, of course, who tonight is accused of sex with a young boy, just 16 years old.
Now let me frame that. The claims are made seven years after the alleged sex relationship as the alleged victim describes it. I`ve never had a rape victim describe the rape as a relationship. So right there I`ve got a problem with that. But if it happened, so be it. It is not too late for justice.
Ben Levitan, telecommunications expert, a lot of this hinges on a single e-mail, to our understanding, maybe there`s going to be more, but a single e-mail in which the alleged victim claims that Elmo admits the boy was 16 when the sex occurred. Now if that`s true, it was rape, it was not sex. There`s also claims that e-mail has been doctored. How can that be?
BEN LEVITAN, TELECOMMUNICATIONS EXPERT: Nancy, this is -- this is the most objective evidence we`re going to have. E-mail, in its electronic form, has so much hidden information that if the FBI comes into this, they`re extremely good at taking apart these e-mails. They will tell you the time, date, and location these e-mails were sent.
Now you -- and a company like "Sesame Street" is going to keep its e- mail for 10 years so, remember, this is a case when you`re dealing with electronic evidence like e-mail, you have two copies of the evidence. If this is falsified, we`re going to find out very quickly. If it`s true, then the second question that comes up in all these cases is, what is the relationship between these two people?
The relationship has not shown in one e-mail. We have to look at the entire relationship. If it goes back seven years, we`re going to see it, and we`re going to see it in context, Nancy, and we`re going to really -- the e-mail is the most objective thing that`s going to get us to the truth here.
GRACE: Ben, let me get down to it. Ben Levitan, telecommunications expert, how do you fake the day or the time stamp on an e-mail? How do you do that?
LEVITAN: Well, somebody who is extremely sophisticated at electronics, what you`re looking at when you`re looking at an e-mail basically an image, Nancy. But remember, when you click that reply button, there`s some extremely accurate -- there`s a lot of information. To be able to just click that little reply button and send a message back to somewhere, anywhere in the world to one of billions of computers, there has to be a lot of hidden information. And any forensic expert and the FBI knows very good at this, can take in electronic e-mail. Not something that`s printed.
They can take an electronic e-mail and in -- let`s just say, in computer code, something that us nerds are very good at reading, we can tell you the entire history of an e-mail, where it come from computer, it came from -- at exactly where physically it came from.
Nancy, if this was faked, this case is going to disappear extremely quickly. If that e-mail did come from the perpetrator`s computer and went to the victim`s computer, we`re going to know exactly. There`s nothing going to be objective about this -- subjective about this, Nancy. It`s going to be accurate. And this will -- this will -- the forensics is going to put an end to this very quickly, I believe.
GRACE: Back to Dr. Ann Contrucci, physician, joining me, she works with children in the E.R. day in and day out, 24/7, 365.
Dr. Ann, you don`t have to have physical evidence for a child molestation to have gone down. I recall distinctly one of the first child molestation cases I tried, it was an adult male with a child. There was alleged anal sodomy but mostly it was oral sodomy. Of course, there was no physical evidence for that. To make it worse the little boy had a learning disability and the guy, the adult, would give him quarters to play the video arcade in exchange for sex.
It was a 9-year-old little boy I remember very, very well. Sometimes there is no physical evidence.
CONTRUCCI: Many times there is none.
GRACE: But if there was a claim made at the time, if there was an E.R. visit, if there was anything, even if the child said something to a teacher at the time at school, there should be a record of that, shouldn`t there?
CONTRUCCI: Absolutely, if they are taken in and the proper investigation is done. We have a very strict protocol. You know, the state mandated laws on what I have to do. I mean, if a child claims something, you know, we have -- we get our social workers involved. We have child advocacy centers, et cetera.
GRACE: Out to the lines, Rachel, California. What`s your question, Rachel?
RACHEL, CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: Hi, Nancy. First of all, I would like to say that I love your show and what you stand for, and thank you for all you do for the victims across the nation.
GRACE: Thank you.
RACHEL: I would like to know more facts before jumping to a conclusion because this is a huge accusation. Do we know more facts or evidence better than what the accuser is saying? Also, did he confide in anyone within the past seven years? And, I also have a question, I always thought there was like a five-year limit to prosecute any form of sexual abuse. Is that true?
GRACE: You know what, Rachel in California, you should consider law school. There is a five-year, called a statute of limitations. But this particular one doesn`t start tolling until you are 18, when you`re an adult. You have five years from that 18th birthday to report.
Nischelle Turner, do we have the answer to any of her questions?
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there`s not a lot of answers right now. That`s the thing about this, Nancy. We`re still just trying to gather information on what`s going to happen in this whole case basically.
GRACE: Out to the lines. Monique, California. Hi, dear. What`s your question?
MONIQUE, CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: Hi, Nancy. I wanted to know, do you feel that people now especially since what`s happened with the Sandusky case are more willing to believe people now that they`re older when they come back later and say when I was younger I had this happen to me.
GRACE: You know what, Monique? I do. I really do, because when I was prosecuting and that was through the `80s and the `90s, if a victim waited it was the kiss of death to a case. And it really worked to show that jury why the victim waited. But when I hear Christopher Anderson talking, I absolutely just hearing him speak, I would bet anything I`ve got that he`s telling me the truth.
So yes, I think that cases like Sandusky paved the way for other victims, sex attack victims, that were children at the time.
This whole Elmo controversy is a whole different can of worms. It`s a 16-year-old at the time. I don`t know the circumstances under which he met Elmo. I know he did not go to police. I don`t know if he made an outcry at the time. Is it a shakedown? Is it for real? I don`t know.
GRACE: We are taking your calls. Irene in Texas. Hi, Irene. What`s your question?
IRENE, CALLER FROM TEXAS: Hi, Nancy. I love your show, but my question, just to get straight to the point, is the whole term of relationship. You know -- I want to know specifically was there an outcry of abuse to anyone that was surrounding this child who was only 16 years old at the time?
GRACE: I find it really difficult to believe that "Sesame Street," it`s PBS, right, Jean? That would keep this a secret. If they thought there was wrong doing that they would keep it a secret.
CASAREZ: Right. I agree. They have their reputation, too.
GRACE: James in Pennsylvania, sorry, James, what`s your question, dear?
JAMES, CALLER FROM PENNSYLVANIA: Well, my question is with me being the victim of molestation starting from the age of 12 all the way up until I was 19, you know, when we actually went to court, you know, he did his time. He`s doing his rehabilitation and there was actually money awarded to myself which in turn was given to the program that I had went to for support and whatnot, therapy.
My question is, with this victim, is there being money even brought up in this? Are they asking for compensation?
GRACE: Jean Casarez, what do we know?
CASAREZ: We know that after the initial meeting with the attorneys, with "Sesame Street," he felt that they weren`t taking him seriously. So he went to a civil lawyer in Pennsylvania that specializes in child abuse victims and that attorney wrote a letter to "Sesame Street." That`s all we know at this point.
GRACE: We are on it, everyone. "Sesame Street" comes to a screeching halt after claims of sexual abuse on a child.
"DR. DREW" up next. I`ll see you tomorrow night 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.
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