Kevin Clash — the guy who famously voiced the little red muppet Elmo on Sesame Street — was suspended from the show and later resigned amid child sex abuse allegations for incidents that had reportedly taken place over a decade ago against plaintiffs who were all underage teen boys at the time.
The first accuser was 23 at the time he came forward, claiming he had been in a relationship with Clash since he was just 16. The 52-year-old Clash later admitted to this relationship, but said it was “between two consenting adults”:
“I had a relationship with the accuser,” Clash said in a statement of his own. “It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterize it as something other than what it was.” (source)
The other alleged victims were all 15 and 16 at the time the abuse reportedly began.
A New York judge dismissed the case last summer on the technicality that the charges were not filed within the statute of limitations.
“It should not be viewed as a vindication for Kevin Clash or a determination that he is innocent,” plaintiff lawyer Adam Horowitz said, noting that counsel were, “still hearing from more of [Clash’s] alleged victims.”
Horowitz vowed to appeal and continue fighting for his clients.
Now a court of appeals has also upheld the dismissal, again citing the statute of limitations:
“The case was dismissed because of the statute of limitations. There is no ruling on the merits,” said an attorney for Sheldon Stephens, 25, Clash’s first accuser. Stephens claims Clash abused him when he was 16, PEOPLE reports. Stephens’ case against Clash is still pending, the attorney said. (source)
Jeff Herman, another lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Elmo case who is currently representing the plaintiff in the now infamous sex abuse case against Director Bryan Singer, called the statute, “an arbitrary timeline that silences victims”.
This means that, hypothetically, these victims could have all had iron-clad proof in video format that these crimes were indeed committed against them, and it would not matter because…time.
Irrespective of Clash’s specific case, of his guilt or innocence, this situation itself begs the question: why is a system that calls itself “criminal justice” purposefully set up to let people get away with crimes like child molestation?
When anyone age 21 or older has sex with a child under the age of 17, the state of New York considers it a felony…but apparently only for a while after it happens.
In New York’s case, that statute of limitations is only six years. What if these victims were only four or five when this happened?
Sexual abuse is a crime. Period. The mere act of time passing does not negate, or in many cases even mitigate, that. With specific regard to child molestation, most kids and even teens are not emotionally and/or psychologically equipped to deal with things like that happening to them at the time they happen. Healing, (if it even ever heals), can take years. Victims can also be threatened into silence for long periods of time that make any statute of limitations more like a sick joke than “criminal justice”.
Really, all the perpetrator has to do is wait it out and hope their victims keep their mouths shut long enough for the law to look the other way.
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