A federal judge in Manhattan ruled Monday that the three men who claimed Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash had sex with them when they were under-aged waited too long to sue. Citing a statute of limitations that requires victims to speak up no longer than six years after the alleged crime or three years after they turn 21, whichever comes last, the judge tossed the Elmo case out of court. He also noted that the claims featured "nearly identical" language.
Through his lawyer, Clash says he's pleased that the three NYC lawsuits have been dropped. There is a fourth pending, however, in Pennsylvania. In that case, the alleged victim claims that Clash had a "crystal meth sex party" with his chauffeur and the accuser. Clash has filed a motion to transfer the case to New York but for the record, the accuser would also fall short of filing a claim within the statute of limitations -- he filed a suit nine years after the alleged crime and four years after he'd turned 21.
The plaintiffs are resilient, though, and vow that this is only a minor setback. There are plans to appeal. The lawyers maintain that the statute is an arbitrary time-line intended to keep victims quiet.
It's hard to know what to hope for here. Clash resigned from Sesame Street in November after the first allegations came out -- it's been clear from day one that everyone took his accusers seriously. Now, to hear that the case has been thrown out ... it's jarring because it's not as if Clash was necessarily proved innocent.
But there in lies the point. He was always innocent -- innocent until proven guilty. The judge was evidently suspicious of how long the alleged victims took to speak up, and his call-out that the suits all sounded bizarrely similar hints that there might have been something else fishy going on.
Did the Elmo puppeteer have inappropriate, psychologically damaging, and totally illegal relationships with underage men? Maybe. But as the judge sees it, it doesn't necessarily matter.
What do you think of the news?
Photo via toywhirl/Flickr