At one time Sesame Street’s Elmo was the most widely recognized childhood character in the world. There were toys, video games, t-shirts and a plethora of merchandise with the little red, furry puppets likeness emblazoned upon them. The good times were rolling for decades for Kevin Clash, who created and voiced Elmo. But that all came to an end in 2012 when Clash was accused of abusing several young men 10 years earlier. Clash resigned from Sesame Street as a result of those accusations.
"I have loved every day of my 28 years working for this exceptional organization, he said in a statement at the time. “Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer."
Now news has emerged that the U.S. Court of Appeals has thrown out three of the cases, agreeing with a New York judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuits. But the haze of assumed guilt may still hang over Clash because of the reason why.
"The case was dismissed because of the statute of limitations. There is no ruling on the merits," the plaintiffs' attorney Jeff Herman, who now also represents the man accusing X-Men director Bryan Sanger of abuse, told People. "The case against Clash on behalf of Sheldon Stephens is pending."
Stephens is Clash's first accuser, who continues to pursue legal action. Stephens, 25, claimed Clash sexually abused him at age 16. But recanted soon after coming forward, admitting the relationship was consensual. The other alleged victims made public accusations, and months later, Stephens filed suit in Pennsylvania against Clash.
One now wonders what will happen to Kevin Clash. He is a man who made his successful life entertaining via Elmo. If this all passes, can he go back?