Elmo Accuser Acted Too Late on Teen Sex Claims

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) -The aspiring model who sued the original voice of Elmo on “Sesame Street” filed his suit three years too late, the Third Circuit ruled.
     Sheldon Stephens, who says he was 16 years old when his relationship with Kevin Clash began, had hoped to reverse a federal judge’s dismissal of his complaint.
     The court ruled that Stephens knew early on of any potential harm the relationship, which allegedly started while Stephens was a statutory minor, was causing him.
     Stephens argued that he was not aware of the psychological damage inflicted by his relations with Clash until 2011, when he was over 21 years old.
     Noting that he continued to have sexual interactions with Clash as an adult, Stephens maintained that, because of his age at the time, he could not have reasonably been expected to know of the future harm it would cause.
     Discovery rules prevent the six-year statute of limitations from tolling until a victim discovers the harm inflicted, Judge Brooks Smith wrote for a three-member panel of the Third Circuit that Clash’s complaint ” indicates that he was cognizant at all times of the sexual abuse from which he contends he suffered an injury.”
     Clash allegedly had sent for chauffeured cars to drive Stephens from his home in Harrisburg, Pa., and Stephens said that Clash promised to help him with his modeling career.
     “Much like a typical battery under state law, Stephens’s complaint demonstrates that he was aware that his legal rights had been violated and he had suffered an injury at the time he and Clash consummated their sexual relationship, even if he did not fully appreciate all of the consequences of that violation,” Judge Brooks wrote.
     Before the suit, Stephens had previously settled with Clash for $125,000 in exchange to agree that their interactions were an “adult consensual relationship.” Stephens recanted in late 2012 and sued Clash in 2013.

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