A judge Thursday tossed out three sex abuse lawsuits against the puppeteer and voice behind Elmo, saying that the plaintiffs waited too long to file charges.
Kevin Clash, the long-time voice of red-furred monster, was accused of having sex with three different men while they were underage andcausing psychological damage, according to the suits. Clash, 52, resigned after 28 years over the allegations.
But New York federal Judge John Koeitl threw out the suits, saying the statute of limitations had expired because all three were filledmore than six years after the alleged acts took place and three years after the plaintiffs turned 21.
“While the plaintiffs may not have recognized the extent of their injuries, they were aware of the defendant's conduct towards them andcould have brought claims,” Koeitl wrote in his decision, according to the Los Angeles Times.
New York native Cecil Singleton, 25, was the first to come forward, filing a $5 million suit in November in which he claimed that Clash had begun a sexual relationship with him in 2004. Kevin Kiadii, 26, of New York, and a 34-year-old unidentified Florida man also came forward with similar allegations.
In their claims, the plaintiffs argued that they didn’t realize the damaging psychological impact of Clash’s actions until they became aware of one another and thus Clash’s sexual pattern.
“This ruling highlights the need for a window in New York to allow victims to have their day in court,” said attorney Jeff Herman, who represented all three plaintiffs, calling the statute of limitations an “arbitrary timeline.” He added that he will appeal the ruling.
Clash’s attorney, Michael Berger, said he was pleased with the outcome.
“Our goal has been to put these spurious claims behind him,” Berger said in a statement, “so that Kevin can go about the business of re-claiming his personal and his professional standing.”
He added: “Kevin is looking forward to a time in the near future when he can tell his story free of innuendo and false claims.
Still, at least one lawsuit remains pending in Pennsylvania, filed by 25-year-old Sheldon Stephens, who claims Clash seduced Stephens when he was 16.