A New York district judge has dismissed three of the four sexual abuse lawsuits levied against Kevin Clash, the former puppeteer for beloved Sesame Street character Elmo. Judge John G. Koeltl ruled on Monday that the statute of limitations on the lawsuits had expired and that the cases were filed too late.
In Koeltl’s ruling, the New York judge cited several prior cases to claim that the statute of limitations had expired in the lawsuits levied against Clash by the plaintiffs Cecil Singleton, Kevin Kiadii and an anonymous John Doe.
Clash, 52, was first accused of sexually abusing underage boys last November, when it was alleged that he routinely engaged in sexual relationships with young teenage boys.
Kiadii claims that he met Clash at age 16 on a gay phone sex line. Singleton maintains that he began a sexual relationship with Clash at age 15. The unnamed John Doe says he met Clash in Miami at age 16. Clash allegedly flew the boy out to New York City for a sex-fueled long weekend soon after.
In response to the ruling, lawyer Jeff Herman, who represents the three plaintiffs, stated that the statute of limitations was simply meant to silence his plaintiffs and that he would continue to seek justice for the alleged victims.
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“The statute of limitations is an arbitrary timeline that silences victims,” Herman told E! Online on Monday. “We believe that the victims in this case are within the statute of limitations, but this ruling highlights the need for a window in New York to allow victims to have their day in court. This is the first battle. We plan to appeal the decision and continue the fight to be a voice for victims."
Clash still faces one more lawsuit for sexual abuse against underage boys. The fourth lawsuit, filed in March, comes from Sheldon Stephens, 24, who was the first person to openly accuse Clash of sexual abuse. In November, Stephens announced that Clash had preyed on him when he was 16, but then took back his statements and claimed that he and Clash had an “adult consensual relationship.”
In March, however, Stephens claimed that he was pressured into recanting his earlier statement. Star Pulse reports that Stephens now says that he met Clash at age 16 and attended a “drug-fueled sex party.”
In response to the allegations of misconduct, Clash resigned from his job as Elmo puppeteer late last year.