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Bad Santa or Naughty Elf?

09-Dec-2013

Late last month, a mall Santa was accused of pinching the buttocks of an 18-year-old woman working as an elf at the shopping center's Santa display. Herbert Jones, 62, was arrested on a complaint of "indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14." The Oklahoma equivalent of his alleged offense would be sexual battery, or non-consensual sexual contact with a person aged 16 or older.

Jones has pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and says, "I did not touch that girl." He is free on $1,000 bond, but he has been ordered to stay away from the Massachusetts mall where he was working, and he has been forbidden from working as Santa Clause pending the outcome of his case.

According to the victim, Jones pinched her on the buttocks while the pair was working, and that he had made "suggestive" comments in the past, telling her, "I wish you were a few years older and I was younger." She says that after he pinched her, she immediately went on break and reported the incident to her supervisor. She claims the manager told her that Jones wanted to see her, and when she approached, he began yelling at her, saying he never would have touched her inappropriately. The woman quit the job on the spot and reported Jones to police.

Jones was arrested and charged based upon the testimony of the alleged victim. In sexual battery cases, there is often no physical evidence, and an arrest is made simply on the allegations alone. Jones he maintains his innocence, saying that he did not touch the girl inappropriately, and in fact, tried to avoid physical contact.

Jones said that while the two were working, the woman accidentally brushed against his hand as he was sitting in his Santa chair, and that he moved his hand away in an attempt to avoid contact. He says that the woman's comment about him saying, "I wish . . . I was younger," was taken out of context, and that he was merely saying he wished he were younger so he could do things differently in his life.

The manager's testimony to police seems to indicate that the woman may have had other problems. He told them that she had been "unhappy all day" after being questioned about some missing money.

So do we have an instance of a "dirty old man" groping his young co-worker? Or is this a case of a young woman in trouble who is trying to deflect attention away from herself?

Unfortunately for the man accused, he is out of a job for the rest of the holiday season, and he is facing a legal battle that could leave him branded as a sex offender--all on the words of an unhappy young woman, without physical evidence or witnesses.

In Oklahoma, sexual battery charges are easy to file, and typically done so based upon a verbal accusation. Often, these arrests are backed by insufficient evidence, which provides defense attorneys an avenue for challenging the charges. However, it is important to retain a lawyer as quickly as possible to help you prevent making serious errors--like talking to police or discussing your case--that could jeopardize your chances of dismissal or acquittal. Find out how we can help by visiting the Oklahoma Legal Group website.



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