Suspected pedophile dressed as Santa to get closer to children, police say

A Missouri man, who was known for dressing as Santa Claus during the holidays, is facing child molestation charges after a 6-year-old girl came forward and told investigators that he molested her. In a disturbing twist, the young girl's mother reportedly told her to stay quiet about the crimes because the suspect is her boyfriend.

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Police in Garden City, Missouri, arrested 36-year-old Anthony Hall Monday while he was working at an Auto Zone.

Investigators said building the case against Hall took months, but Police Chief Thomas Alber noted officers were able to get him off the street before another Christmas, "especially being the beginning of November where people would begin to book Christmas parties that might be employing this individual and allowing him access to more children," WDAF reported.

The victim told her mother about the incidents, but she told her daughter to keep quiet because Hall was living with them, police said. When investigators spoke to the mother and Hall, both reportedly denied the allegations. But their stories reportedly changed when authorities showed them illustrations that the victim drew.

Hall, a father of three, also admitted that he’s been accused of sexual contact with his own children, authorities said. Alber said investigations involving children are handled in a special way to maintain truth and tact.

“Children go through special interviews with specially trained forensic investigators,” Alber said.

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Alber also noted that pedophiles often “gravitate toward areas where children are accessible and available.”

“They’re tough cases; they’re cases that hit many people right in the heart … When the child’s a victim, it’s especially difficult,” he said

Hall is a staple in the small town, and WDAF reported that there are several pictures of him with children on social media in which he's dressed as Santa, including one photo on the Garden City Police Department's Facebook page.

According a local blog citing the arrest warrant, Hall was charged with first-degree child molestation and booked in the Cass County Jail on $25,000 bond.

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The Missiouri Penal Code names first-degree child molestation as a Class A felony, which is punishable with a prison term of no less than 10 years. Since the alleged victim is less than 12 years old, if convicted, Hall will not be eligible for probation, parole or conditional release.

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