Kevin Clash wins the first round of his legal battle against three men who accuse him of sexual abuse. The lawsuits filed by Cecil Singleton, Kevin Kiadii and an unnamed John Doe have been thrown out because a statute of limitations to sue expired three years after they reached "the age of majority" and the claims were made more than six years after the alleged conduct.
U.S. District Court Judge John G. Koeltl noted in a 28-page ruling that each plaintiff had reached the age of 18 for more than three years when they filed the lawsuits. The judge also explained that the complaints came more than six years after they should have reasonably realized the physical and emotional injuries they suffered from the alleged encounters with Clash.
Singleton claimed in a lawsuit that he was first persuaded for sex by Clash when he was 15. Kiadii said he met Clash through a gay chat line room and was invited to the voice actor's apartment for sex when he was 16. The third unnamed accuser claimed he was 16 or 17 when he met Clash and engaged in sexual activity with him.
The former Elmo puppeteer on "Sesame Street" is not off the hook completely though. He is still facing a lawsuit by Sheldon Stephens, who opened the door to a string of child abuse accusations against him. Stephens initially recanted his accusation after settling the matter behind the close door, but he later had a change of heart.
Clash has denied any wrongdoing. He resigned his post at the PBS famous children show, saying that "personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing and I cannot allow it to go any longer."
After the ruling, Jeff Herman who represents the plaintiff said to E! News, "The statute of limitations is an arbitrary timeline that silences victims. 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, meanwhile, said through his lawyer that he hoped the ruling would help recover his image personally and professionally.