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Statute of limitations spares Elmo puppeteer in three sex abuse cases

The sex abuse lawsuits leveled by three men against Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash have been dismissed by a New York judge due to a time-barring technicality.

The statute of limitations for these lawsuits — filed by Cecil Singleton, Kevin Kiadii and a John Doe — calls for the suits to be filed within six years of the alleged act. Doe’s purported sexual encounter with Clash occurred in 1996, Singleton’s in 2003, and Kiadii’s in 2005, all beyond the statute.

While the plaintiffs argued that the discovery rule should be considered in their cases — that is, that it took time beyond the statute of limitations to discover the connection between their alleged relations with Clash and their subsequent injuries — in Judge John Koeltl’s Monday ruling, he stated, “While the plaintiffs may not have recognized the extent of their injuries, they were aware of the defendant’s conduct towards them and could have brought claims.”

“The Court has considered all of the arguments of the parties,” Judge John Koeltl says in the court document obtained by Variety. “To the extend not specifically addressed above, the remaining arguments are either moot or without merit. For the reasons explained above, the defendant’s motion to dismiss is granted.”

Clash rose to fame after shaping the voice and persona of Elmo, one of “Sesame Street’s” most iconic and bankable characters. When claims emerged in November that Clash had engaged in sexual relations with underage boys, the puppeteer took a leave of absence and eventually resigned from his post as the Elmo puppeteer. He had been with Sesame Workshop for 28 years.

“Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work ‘Sesame Street’ is doing, and I cannot allow it to go on any longer,” Clash said in a statement at the time of his resignation. “I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately.”

In spite of his highly-publicized legal turmoil, Clash won two Emmys at last month’s Daytime Emmy Awards for his work on “Sesame Street” as Elmo.

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