Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Mall Santa Faces Indecent Assault and Battery Charges after Allegedly Pinching Co-worker’s Buttocks

Hanover, Massachusetts shoppers have more to be upset about than Black Friday crowds this week now that a mall Santa Claus faces criminal charges. A 62-year-old Hanover Mall photo display Santa is charged with indecent assault and battery after allegedly touching a female employee in an inappropriate sexual manner.

According to, 62-year-old Herbert Jones, a Santa Claus working for Cherry Hill Photo, pinched the buttocks of his female co-workers this week at the picture display booth where they both worked. Mr. Jones was allegedly sitting in the Santa Claus chair when he made the offensive move, and told the co-worker that he wished she were younger as he pinched her. While reports indicate that there were no child witnesses to the inappropriate behavior, many mall shoppers are uneasy about the thought of a Santa facing criminal charges for indecent assault and battery. Cherry Hill Photo reportedly denies the allegations of misconduct and Mr. Jones is innocent until proven guilty.

Indecent, or sexual, assault and battery is a crime that is distinct from ordinary assault and battery in that it contains the element of offensive touching on certain parts of the victim’s body. Under Massachusetts criminal laws, indecent assault falls into two different categories for the purposes of sentencing: indecent assault and battery against a person 14-years-old or older; and indecent assault and battery against a child under 14-years-old. When a person is convicted of indecent assault and battery against a victim that is 14-years-old or older, he or she may be sentenced to up to five years in a state prison, or up to two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction. However, if the victim is either an elderly person or a person with a disability, as further defined under the law, the offender may be sentenced up to ten years in prison, or two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction. A subsequent conviction is punishable by up to twenty years in prison. A first-time offender of indecent assault and battery against a child under 14-years-old may be subject to a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment in a state prison, or up to two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction.

It is important to note that not only does an indecent assault and battery offense come with a potentially lengthy prison sentence, it also come with the penalties and consequences that are associated with a “sex offense.” A conviction on a crime that is a “sex offense” requires convicted persons to comply with sex offender registration requirement, which can impact all avenues of a person’s life once he or she is out of prison.

Indecent assault and battery, and all “sex offenses, are very complex cases and skill and experience are necessary in order to understand the full range of consequences of a conviction. If you have been charged with a sex offense, or any criminal offense under Massachusetts law, your best line of defense is to immediately speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

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