Santa Clause faces charges of indecent assault in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts following allegations that he groped the buttocks of an 18 year old female elf while the two were working at the Hanover Mall on November 23, 2013. Santa Clause impersonator Herbert Jones, denied groping the teen, claiming that her 18 year old butt accidentally brushed against his 62 year old hands. Jones was released on $1,000 bail, and either through perfect timing or the aid of a court clerk with a sense of humor, his next court appearance is slated for Christmas Eve.
Terminology for sex offenses varies widely among the various states, but had this incident occurred in Pennsylvania, Jones would also be charged with indecent assault. Indecent assault is defined as the nonconsensual touching of an intimate part of a person’s body, such as breasts, buttocks or genitals, with no penetration. Indecent assault often occurs while the victim is fully clothed, and even occurs in public settings with witnesses around, as was the case here. Not surprisingly, indecent assault allegations often arise in situations where the defendant and/ or the victim are drunk. Given the reputation of mall Santas, I would not be surprised if Jones had imbibed.
Perhaps Jones confused his role as Santa with that of the Alpine Yuletide beast, Krampus, who is known to swat the buttocks of young maidens with birch branches. Of course, girls who line the streets of Austrian and Bavarian villages during Krampus parades have implicitly consented to having their buttocks spanked. In fact, if you are a Dirndl-clad Mädel who is completely ignored by Krampus, it would probably be a major blow to your self esteem. By contrast, an 18 year old elf does not implicitly consent to having her butt groped by an obese, old guy with impulse control issues.
Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense attorney in State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University. He has represented a wide range of clients, but has never represented a Santa Clause.