It was news that likely shocked many people in East Brunswick, but in November 2012, the voice and puppeteer behind Sesame Street’s Elmo was accused of engaging in sexual relations with teenagers. While the 24-year-old accuser claimed that the interactions were originally part of a consensual adult relationship, he later filed a sexual assault lawsuit against the puppeteer in March.
While many people in Middlesex County may only think of the criminal charges that come with a sexual assault charge, there are also often civil lawsuits that accompany them, as well. In addition to facing time in prison and having to register as a sex offender, someone accused of having a sexual relationship with a teenager could also be ordered to pay the teenager a considerable amount of money.
What makes civil lawsuits particularly dangerous is that they have a much lower threshold than criminal cases. To be convicted of a crime, a Middlesex County jury must find the defendant committed the criminal action beyond a reasonable doubt, but to be found liable for a civil lawsuit, the jury must only found that it was more likely than not that the defendant did what was accused. And, to many people in the public, being found liable of a civil accusation is tantamount to being found guilty of a crime.
Fortunately for the voice of Elmo, three of the sexual abuse lawsuits have been dropped. There is at least one other lawsuit that he is still dealing with, but his lawyer has said that they have moved to have it dismissed, as well.
Source: CNN, “Sex abuse lawsuits against ‘Elmo’ voice actor dismissed,” Alan Duke, July 1, 2013