From 1984 until November of last year, the character of Elmo on Sesame Street had the same puppeteer and voice. The puppeteer who literally gave Elmo life, however, was forced to resign last November after a 24-year-old man accused the 52 year old of having sexual intercourse with him. The lawsuit that he filed shorly thereafter, alleging sexual assault, was a sharp departure from his original claim that the relationship was between two consulting adults.
Although it does not appear that the puppeteer faced criminal charges for his supposed relationships, he was subject to at least four civil lawsuits. Which, as some people in Minneapolis know, are just as bad as criminal charges. Though a conviction will not send someone to prison, it will still expose someone to considerable negative publicity. And, since there is not as high of a burden of proof, it may be much easier to convince a jury of a suspect’s liability than of his or her criminal guilt.
Fortunately for the man who has voiced Elmo, three of the lawsuits filed against him have been dropped for violating the statute of limitations. Although some people may consider the statute of limitations a technicality that strips victims of their ability to seek compensation for sexual assault, it goes a long way to protect someone from wrongfully being held responsible for something they didn’t do.
A statute of limitations recognizes that evidence and memories are only going to be fresh for a certain period of time, and that trying to defend against a sex abuse allegation well after it allegedly took place may be next to impossible.
Source: CNN, “Sex abuse lawsuits against ‘Elmo’ voice actor dismissed,” Alan Duke, July 1, 2013