NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York federal judge on Monday tossed out three child sex abuse lawsuits against Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who gave Sesame Street's beloved Elmo character his voice.
Judge John Koeltl rejected lawsuits filed by three men who accused Clash of sexually abusing them when they were under age.
After the allegations surfaced last fall, Clash, 52, in November resigned the job he had held for 28 years as the puppeteer who brought life to Elmo, the red, furry monster featured on the international children's television series.
The judge, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, said the statute of limitations had run out for the lawsuits, which were filed long after the federal limit of within six years of the event for lodging complaints.
One man said Clash paid to fly him from Miami to New York for an encounter in the mid-90s; two others said they met Clash on a gay telephone chat line, one in 2003 and the other in 2004.
In 2012, a fourth man recanted his claims that Clash had sex with him when he was 16 years old.
One lawsuit against Clash is pending in federal court in Pennsylvania, filed by a fifth man who accused Clash of engaging in a sexual relationship that began in 2004 when the man was 16.
Last month, Clash won three Daytime Emmy Awards for his work on Sesame Street.
Neither Clash's lawyer nor representatives for Sesame Street returned calls seeking comment.
(Reporting By Francesca Trianni; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Dan Grebler)