FACT CHECK: Did A Wisconsin Mall Santa And His Elves Beat Up A Child Molester?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook more than 23,000 times claims a Wisconsin mall Santa and his elves beat up a child molester.

“Not all heroes wear capes!!!! Ho ho motherf****r,” reads the caption.

Verdict: False

The story has been routinely debunked over the years as satire. Both photos come from unrelated incidents, with the one on the left showing a Florida man’s 2012 mugshot and the other showing an arrest at a protest on Black Friday in 2013.

Fact Check:

A Facebook post, which looks vaguely like a news story, describes an incident in which a shopping mall Santa and several elves performed an act of vigilante justice in Wisconsin. It has been shared more than 23,000 times since Dec. 18. (RELATED: Did Tomi Lahren Say ‘Obama Created Festivus To Destroy Christmas’?)

“A Wisconsin mall Santa decided to handle one of the naughty list members early this year when a young girl told him her Christmas wish was for her stepdad to stop molesting her,” reads the post. “He and four of his elves attacked the guy, who was waiting nearby, and pummeled him unconscious.”

Two images – one showing police officers arresting a man dressed as Santa Claus, the other showing a pixelated portrait of a man – accompany the text in the Facebook post.

Below that, the story’s byline credits “Thug Muncher” with authoring the piece, immediately making the story suspect. (RELATED: Hoax Claims That Cadbury Products Were Tainted With HIV-Positive Blood)

The story likely originated on Thug Life Videos, a website that disclaims it “sometimes share[s] the odd satire stories for your entertain.” That article, found through an internet search, placed the vigilante mall Santa incident in a suburban Milwaukee mall, but The Associated Press debunked that version of it in 2016.

Found through a reverse image search, the pixelated portrait actually shows a 2012 mugshot of a Florida man caught prowling outside a house that was later posted on the official Facebook page of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The other image, taken on Black Friday in 2013, depicts a protester dressed as Santa getting arrested outside a California Walmart, according to CBS 2 Los Angeles.

The tale of the mall Santa and his elves beating up a child molester has been circulating since at least 2016, according to Snopes.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter

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