Clash, the man behind the beloved Sesame Street character for 28 years, first faced accusations in 2012

By Michele Corriston
Updated April 23, 2014 05:30 PM
Bryan Bedder/Getty

The puppeteer who voiced Elmo for decades has been cleared of three sexual abuse charges.

In 2012, Kevin Clash was accused of abusing multiple men more than 10 years earlier. The allegations prompted Clash, 53, to resign from Sesame Street.

“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.”

But the U.S. Court of Appeals this month threw out three cases, agreeing with a New York judge’s July decision to dismiss the lawsuits.

“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 Hollywood director Bryan Singer of abuse – tells 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 then made public accusations, and months later, Stephens filed suit in Pennsylvania against Clash.

In a separate case, Stephens was sentenced to three months in prison April 14 for stealing pension checks from educators, according to Penn Live.