On Monday, a federal court in New York dismissed three separate lawsuits brought by men accusing ex-Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash of having sexually abused them while underage. The lawsuits were not dismissed on merits or evidence, but upon the lawsuits being time-barred by the statute of limitations.
While dismissing the lawsuits, U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl observed that the claims came more than six years after the time by which the men claiming abuse would have realized that their physical and emotional injuries were caused by their alleged abuse by Clash. The judge also took into consideration the fact that each of the complainants had reached the age of eighteen more than three years before they filed their lawsuits.
Right now, only one case remains pending in Pennsylvania against Clash.
Kevin Clash had been the puppeteer for Elmo in the “Sesame Street” television show and had resigned from the show in November last year, after a college student sued him for more than $5 million. The student, Cecil Singleton, alleged that Clash had sex with him when Singleton was only 15 years old.
Singleton’s lawsuit was among those dismissed on Monday.
In New York, it is a felony for a person of the age of 21 years or above to have sex with a person of or below the age of 17 years.
The lawyers for the plaintiffs whose lawsuits were dismissed said they were planning for appeal.
Jeff Herman, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said the statute of limitations was “an arbitrary timeline that silences victims … the need for a window in New York to allow the victims to have their day in court.”
Clash’s lawyer, Michael G. Berger issued a statement welcoming the decision of the court. He stated, “our goal has been to put these spurious claims behind him, so that Kevin can go about the business of reclaiming his personal life and his professional standing.”