06/20/2014 09:43 am ET Updated Aug 20, 2014

Elmo Puppeteer Kevin Clash's Sex Abuse Lawsuit Dismissed

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(Adds comment from Clash spokesman, byline)

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK, June 20 (Reuters) - A federal judge in Pennsylvania has dismissed a lawsuit accusing Kevin Clash, the puppeteer known for his work as the voice of Sesame Street's Elmo, of child sexual abuse.

The lawsuit was filed by a man who accused Clash, 53, of engaging in a sexual relationship during visits to New York that began in 2004, when the man was 16.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, dismissed the lawsuit on Thursday, ruling it had not been filed within the statute of limitations in New York.

The lawsuit was filed last year.

A judge in New York previously dismissed three other lawsuits against Clash by men who accused him of sexually abusing them when they were under age. The New York judge also said the statute of limitations had run out.

Accusations against Clash led to his resignation in 2012 from the job he held for 28 years as the puppeteer who brought life to Elmo, the red, furry monster featured on the international children's television series.

A spokesman said Clash was "gratified that once again the courts have dismissed the claims against him."

"We believe we are finally at the point as a team where we can begin to turn our full attention to restoring Kevin's personal and professional reputation over the coming weeks and months so he may regain his rightful place as an accomplished and respected artist," said his spokesman Nicholas Peters. (Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Additional reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Eric Beech)