Three lawsuits brought by men who claimed former Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash had sexually abused them when they were underage have been thrown out by a judge in New York.

“Kevin is pleased by the judge’s decision,” his attorney, Michael Berger, said yesterday in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “As we have maintained all along, our goal has been to put these spurious claims behind him so that Kevin can go about the business of re-claiming his personal life and his professional standing, which was recently recognised once again by the three Emmys he won last month.”

US District Judge John Koeltl on Monday said in his decision that the men waited too long to sue.

He said the claims came more than six years after each man reasonably should have become aware of Mr Clash’s alleged violations and more than three years after each turned 18.

Mr Clash resigned from Sesame Street last November after college student Cecil Singleton sued him for more than $5m (£3.30m), accusing the children’s show puppeteer of having sex with him when he was 15.

Sex with a person under age 17 is a felony in New York if the perpetrator is 21 or older.

Judge Koeltl also rejected a lawsuit by Kevin Kiadii, who claimed that Mr Clash initiated contact with him on a gay chat line in 2004 when he was 16.

A third lawsuit, initiated by an anonymous Florida resident who claimed Mr Clash befriended him in the mid 90s when he was 16 or 17, was also dropped.

Adam Horowitz, an attorney for the men who brought the lawsuits, noted that the case was dismissed only on statute of limitations grounds.

“It should not be viewed as a vindication for Kevin Clash or a determination that he is innocent,” Mr Horowirz said.

“We are considering an appeal of this decision. We are also still hearing from more of his alleged victims.”

Until his decision to resign Mr Clash had been the voice and puppeteer for Elmo for the past 28 years.