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4th Sex-Abuse Suit Against Ex-Elmo Puppeteer Dismissed

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

The former voice of "Sesame Street's" Elmo had a win, or at least not a loss, in federal court after a judge dismissed a sex-abuse lawsuit for falling outside the statute of limitations.

This was the fourth sex-abuse suit filed against Kevin Clash, 53, accusing him of engaging in sexual relationships with teenage boys who are now adult men. U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner dismissed the latest suit by a man who claimed Clash sexually abused him in 2004, when he was 16, reports Reuters.

Why was the suit dismissed against the former Elmo puppeteer?

Statute of Limitations

In every state, there are statutes of limitations which set time limits on how long a person can wait before filing a claim in civil court. In each state these limits are slightly different, and in New York, the time limit for personal injury claims is cut off at three years.

Plaintiff Sheldon Stephens, 25, had accused Clash of having a sexual relationship with him as a minor in 2004, which normally would have given him three years from his 18th birthday to file a sexual abuse claim. The New York Daily News reports that Stephens initially went public with his sexual allegations against Clash in 2012, then recanted, then recanted his recantation and filed suit in federal court.

Though the suit was filed in Pennsylvania, Reuters reports that Stephens' claim was governed by New York's laws. This meant that Stephens would have had to file his claim by 2007 to avoid being barred by the statute of limitations. (Had the incident occurred in Pennsylvania, the state's statute of limitations may have been extended up to 12 years for those suing for childhood sexual abuse; however, this law only applies to those minors who engaged in sexual activity as a result of "forcible compulsion or threat of forcible compulsion.")

Clash Says So Long to Suits

Although Stephens can potentially appeal, Clash may have survived the last of the sexual-abuse allegations that ended his career. This dismissal follows last year's tossing of three other lawsuits which were also barred by New York's statute of limitations.

A spokesman for Clash told the Daily News that his team is looking forward to rebuilding the former voice actor's personal and professional reputation.

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