— NEW YORK (AP) — Three lawsuits brought by men who said former Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash sexually abused them when they were underage were tossed out by a judge who said in a decision published Monday that the men waited too long to sue.
U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl said the claims must be barred because they came more than six years after the men reasonably should have realized that the physical and emotional injuries they're suing over were caused by alleged encounters with Clash. The judge also noted that each man had been over the age of 18 for more than three years before the lawsuits were filed.
Clash was the man behind Elmo, the popular furry red monster, for 28 years.
Attorneys for the men promised an appeal while Clash said through his lawyer that he hoped the ruling would help him recover personally and professionally.
One other lawsuit is pending in Pennsylvania.
Clash resigned from "Sesame Street" in November after college student Cecil Singleton sued him for more than $5 million, accusing Clash of having sex with him when he was 15.
At the time, Clash said he was leaving his job because "personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work 'Sesame Street' is doing."
Singleton's lawsuit was among those thrown out Monday. Koeltl also rejected lawsuits brought by Kevin Kiadii, who claimed that Clash initiated contact with him on a gay chat line in 2004 when he was 16, and a third person, a Florida resident, who remained anonymous in his lawsuit as he claimed that Clash befriended him in late 1995 or early 1996 when he was 16 or 17.
The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people alleging sex crimes, but both Singleton and Kiadii have widely publicized their accusations, including giving several interviews and, in Singleton's case, a news conference.