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 federal judge who said in a decision published on Monday that the men waited too long to sue.
United States District Judge John G Koeltl said the claims came more than six years after each man reasonably should have become aware of Clash's alleged violations and more than three years after each turned 18. One other lawsuit is pending in Pennsylvania.
Clash resigned from Sesame Street in November after college student Cecil Singleton sued him for more than US$5 million (S$6.3 million), accusing Clash of having sex with him when he was 15.
At the time, the man behind the popular furry red monster for 28 years said he was leaving the job because "personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing."
Mr Singleton's lawsuit was among those thrown out on Monday. Mr Koeltl also rejected lawsuits brought by Mr 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.
Sex with a person under age 17 is a felony in New York if the perpetrator is 21 or older.
Mr Adam D Horowitz, an attorney for the men who brought the lawsuits, noted that the case was dismissed only on statute of limitations grounds.
"It should not be viewed as a vindication for Kevin Clash or a determination that he is innocent," Mr Horowirz said. "We are considering an appeal of this decision. We are also still hearing from more of his alleged victims."
Other lawyers on both sides of the case did not immediately return messages seeking comment.