PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A judge in Pennsylvania dismissed the last of five sex-abuse lawsuits filed against the Emmy-winning puppeteer who voiced the “Sesame Street” character Elmo.
The ruling did not weigh the merits of the claims but said 25-year-old accuser Sheldon Stephens filed suit too late against actor Kevin Clash.
Stephens accused Clash, now 53, of luring him into a sexual relationship after they met at a 2004 networking event for actors when he was about 16.
Four similar lawsuits involving other accusers were previously dismissed in New York, where Clash lives, defense lawyer Michael Berger said.
“We’re delighted with the result, and very happy that Kevin can go on with his life,” Berger said.
U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner found Thursday that Stephens failed to sue by age 19 under laws in New York, where their meetings took place. Stephens had sued in Pennsylvania, where longer time limits apply. He lives in Harrisburg.
“This ruling highlights the need for a window in New York to allow victims to have their day in court,” said Stephens’ lawyer, Jeff Herman, who said an appeal was possible. “We are pleased to give victims like Sheldon Stephens a voice, even if legal technicalities preclude this case from moving forward.”
The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually assaulted, but Stephens has been public about his identity.
Clash resigned from “Sesame Street” amid the accusations, even as he continued to rack up Daytime Emmy Awards for his work. He had spent 28 years playing Elmo on the popular Public Broadcasting Service show, winning more than two dozen Emmys.
He never was charged criminally over any of the allegations, Berger said.
“Kevin is gratified that once again the courts have dismissed the claims against him,” Clash spokesman Nicholas Peters said. “We believe we (can) … begin to turn our full attention to restoring Kevin’s personal and professional reputation … as an accomplished and respected artist.”
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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