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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:
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.