Judge tosses sex suits vs. ex-TV Elmo
By Bruce Golding
It was a sunny day for ex-Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash after a judge tossed three suits filed by young men who claimed they suffered psychological damage as a result of having had underage sex with the “Sesame Street” star.
In a ruling filed yesterday, Manhattan federal Judge John Koeltl said the men, now all in their 20s, waited too long to sue the longtime voice of Elmo under a statute of limitations that requires legal action within “six years after the cause of action accrues or three years after the plaintiff turns 21, which ever is longer.”
All three suits — which Koeltl noted contained “nearly identical” language — were filed between eight and 16 years after the men say they had sex with Clash while in their teens.
Clash resigned in disgrace after the first suit was filed last year,. but the scandal didn’t stop him from winning three Daytime Emmy Awards last month, including outstanding performer in a children’s series.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Jeff Herman, vowed to appeal, calling the statute of limitations “an arbitrary timeline that silences victims.”
Cecil Singleton, 25, of Harlem, said he wished he could have spoken to Koeltl personally to explain why he waited so long after his relationship with Clash, which he says began at age 15 when they met on a gay telephone chat line.
“Until I knew Kevin had a fetish for underage men, it never occurred to me that I was a victim,” Singleton said.
A similar suit filed by a fourth accuser who lives in Pennsylvania remains pending in federal court in Harrisburg, Penn., where Clash has filed a motion to transfer the case to New York.
Clash’s lawyer didn’t return a request for comment.