This article was originally published on by Isadora Teich 

Sure, Bad Santa is a great movie, but there couldn’t actually be a mall Santa that bad in real life, could there? Actually, real-world mall Santa scandals are occasionally just as absurd as anything Willie, Marcus, and Thurman Merman got into. From the grumpy to the cruel to the violent to the clearly totally crazy, there are more crimes committed by Santa every year than you might think. Some of these Santa crimes are even horrifying. They might make you think twice before bringing your kid to sit on Santa’s lap.

The holiday season is known for warmth and joy, and Christmas is a time that kids look forward to all year. Santa is usually thought of as a jolly figure, who knows whether you’ve been naughty or nice. These bad Santas did not get the memo and are definitely on the naughty list. If you’re already tired of the holiday cheer and are ready to experience some Santas behaving badly, consider this list of crimes committed by Santa a gift from someone who gets it.

The Mall Santa Charged with Groping a Teen Elf

In 2013, Massachusetts mall Santa Herbert Jones was banned from Hanover Mall and got into some legal trouble after getting wildly inappropriate with an 18-year-old girl working as an elf with him at the festive photo booth for kids. Police say that the woman called them to report him for touching her butt and making crude comments to her.

The 62-year-old claimed it wasn’t true and was released on a $1,000 bond after pleading not guilty to indecent assault and battery. Jones was still barred from Hanover Mall and was unable to play Santa anywhere pending the outcome of his case. Jones, and his genuine bushy white beard, admitted to nothing.

The Canadian Mall Santa with Some Strong Hockey Opinions

In 2012, a Toronto mall Santa traumatized the very first child waiting in line to meet him. After noticing the child sporting a shirt for the Canadian hockey team, The Maple Leafs, he had some choice words. This mall Santa took one look at the little boy and said, “Oh, you’re wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs tuque, you shouldn’t be wearing that, they suck.”

The boy cried all the way home and the mall Santa was later fired.

The Mall Santa That Talked About the Sandy Hook Massacre with Children

Parents Wendy and Steve Kennett were in for a shock when they took their three young children to see Santa at Notcutts garden center in the UK in 2012. When the siblings told the mall Santa that they had been good this year, he replied, “Well there are bad people in the world and bad things happen, like what happened to those children in America.”

The Santa then went on to describe what sounded a lot like the tragedy at Sandy Hook, without actually naming it. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the man asked that the two little girls leave so he could have a word with their brother. Once they did, he whispered in the little boy’s ear that Santa wasn’t real and he ran away in tears. The Kennetts were refunded and the bad Santa was fired.

Drunk Santa

In 2011, a Canadian mall Santa was arrested after showing up to take pictures with kids clearly drunk. He showed up to work in the morning stumbling and unable to keep his words straight, his ho-ho-hos filling parents with apprehension rather than helping to spread holiday cheer. A man who worked in a kiosk near Santa’s chair said that this wasn’t the first time the Santa had come to work drunk. “You could see he was clearly intoxicated, but no one was bold enough to say anything, and then finally someone had to call security and do something about it because it was looking really bad.”

Fortunately, the man was removed and replaced before he came into contact with kids, only to be arrested outside the mall for public intoxication.

The Mall Santa That Tried to Ruin Christmas for a Child

In 2014, 9-year-old Sophie Robinson went to a shopping center in the UK, only for the Santa there to tell her that she was too old to visit and she shouldn’t have come at all. Sophie left in tears, and the manager of the shopping center tried to gloss the whole thing over by handing her mom a £20 gift card at first, only for news of this cruel Santa to spread. Soon after, Sophie was invited back for a better Santa experience with a lot more Christmas magic. The shopping center also issued an official apology.

The Mall Santa Arrested for Child Pornography

In 2015, a Raleigh, NC, mall Santa was arrested for possession child pornography. Sixty-three-year-old Leander Dewey Jones was arrested after he took his computer in to get fixed and the people working at the shop found pornographic images of kids younger than 10 saved on it.

Jones was a member of the Triangle Santa Buddies, an organization that provides Santa appearances in the area. He also worked as a children’s entertainer and appeared as a pirate and magician at kids’ birthday parties. A small pen camera was even found hidden in the bathroom of his home.

Mall Santa Meltdown

In 1999, the mall Santa at the Woodland Hills Shopping Mall in Woodland Hills, CA, had a legendary meltdown. When new mom Kelley Fornatoro brought her 19-month-old son in for a traditional Christmas photo with Santa, Santa refused in a freak out so epic that, after he ripped off his costume and beard, he was escorted out by security. When the baby started to cry, he had some choice words for Fornatoro. “Was it worth it? Was it worth it for you to torture your child for a picture? You must be an evil person.”

When Fornatoro threatened to report him, he claimed to be the real Santa Claus, the best person in the world, and ripped his costume off before being dragged away. Santa never got to give his side of the story, as both the mall and the company he worked for never released his name.

The Mall Santa That Was Actually a Pedophile

In 2013, 78-year-old former mall Santa Lawrence Doris awaited trial for six child sexual assault charges. He had previously worked at the Les Promenades de l’Outauais in Québec and was facing charges for the sexual assault of five victims aged 9 to 15 between 2012 and 2013. One of those charges was related to a claim that Doris had even touched a child inappropriately while they were sitting on his lap in Santa’s chair in the mall. Police, however, claimed that his pedophile activities were not related to his occupation as a mall Santa. Doris was released on bail while awaiting trial.

The Mall Santa That Put Hillary Clinton on the Naughty List

An unnamed mall Santa was fired in 2016 from the Seminole Town Center in Sanford, FL, after telling a little girl that Hillary Clinton was on his naughty list. As she sat in his lap, the mall Santa told her she was on his nice list and then asked if she knew who was on his naughty list. When the little girl said that she didn’t know, the mall Santa replied, “Hillary Clinton,” and laughed.

While the Santa’s employer has not released his name, they said that after the mother called to complain, the man was replaced and sent to human resources for counseling. The woman was also sent an apology.

The Mall Santa That Turned Away an Autistic Girl and Her Pitbull Service Dog

An Orange County, CA, mall Santa turned away a seven-year-old autistic girl in 2014, claiming that he was allergic to her service dog, a pitbull named Pup-Cake. Abcde (pronounced “Ab-suh-dee”) Santos waited in line for 30 minutes to see Santa, only to be heartbroken when he turned her away. When the family explained Pup-Cake was a service dog and legally allowed to be there, the Santa suddenly became allergic to dogs.

The mall Santa was replaced and The Shops at Mission Viejo posted an official apology on their Facebook page. They also invited Abcde back for a “special Santa experience” to make up for the one which left her in tears.

The Grumpiest Mall Santa



In 2012, the parents who took their children to a mall in South Portland, ME, saw to it that the mall Santa there was fired after he proved to be less than full of holiday spirit. He was rude, grumpy, and wouldn’t let a child sit on his lap.  When one child asked him for an American Girl doll, he scoffed at her and said that she was getting an “American football” instead. After sharing similar unpleasant experiences with the unfriendly Santa on social media and the news catching wind of it, the sour mall Santa was let go and replaced.



The Mall Santa That Assaulted His Former Father-in-Law