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Ho-Ho-Harassment? Mall Santa Accused of Groping Elf

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By Betty Wang, JD on November 26, 2013 12:42 PM

Here's the first "Bad Santa" story of the holiday season: A mall Santa has been accused of giving a little too much love to an elf. Herbert Jones was charged with groping an 18-year-old woman who played the elf, Reuters reports.

Jones, 62, of Assonet, Massachusetts, has been released on $1,000 bail after pleading not guilty. He was ordered to stay away from the Hanover Mall, where the alleged incident occurred. A judge has also barred Jones from playing Santa anywhere while he awaits the outcome of his case.

What will prosecutors need to prove, and does Santa Jones have any potential defenses?

Santa On His Own Naughty List

Jones is being charged with indecent assault and battery, which, in Massachusetts, contains four elements that prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Age. The alleged victim must have been at least 14 years old. In this case, the elf was 18.
  • Assault and battery. Assault and battery must have been committed. Assault generally refers to any act that places the victim in fear of harm, while battery (in this case, alleged groping) is any intentional touching of a person without her consent.
  • Indecency. The assault and battery must have been "indecent," which the Commonwealth of Massachusetts finds if the touching was on a person's more private areas, such as the buttocks, as the victim alleges in this case.
  • No consent. The victim also must not have consented to the touching.

Santa's helper or not, nobody deserves to be a victim of indecent assault and battery. No sugar, no spice, and nothing is nice -- if convicted, Santa could be placed on the "naughty" list this year and face up to two and a half years in prison and fines of up to $1,000.

Will Santa Be Excused?

Santa Jones has pleaded not guilty, but if it is proven that he did in fact grope the elf, would he have any valid defenses?

Jones has denied touching the elf, so without a surprise confession or more physical evidence, it may just be his word against the alleged victim's.

One fact that may (or may not) prove helpful in this case: The two apparently worked at a Santa photo booth in the mall. However, there's no word yet as to whether any unwanted ho-ho-harassment was captured on film.

The alleged "Bad Santa's" next day in court is set for (when else?) Christmas Eve.

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