Longtime Santa in southern Missouri sentenced for sexual abuse of child

Jeffrey Moffat

Jeffrey Moffat

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. —  A southeast Missouri man who frequently played Santa Claus during the Christmas season has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for sexually abusing a 6-year-old girl.

The Southeast Missourian reports that 57-year-old Jeffrey Moffat of Jackson entered an Alford plea Monday to a charge of first-degree statutory sodomy and was sentenced by Cape Girardeau County Judge Fred Copeland. An Alford plea acknowledges substantial evidence but does not admit guilt.

Prosecutors say Moffat was a baby sitter for the child and abused her at his home in 2014 and 2015.

Moffat played Santa on the St. Louis Iron Mountain and Southern Railway Santa Express for about two decades. He was not accused of committing any crime while he acted as Santa.

According to the probable cause statement, Moffat is accused of touching the 6-year-old girl inappropriately on more than one occasion. During a  medical interview and examination, the child reportedly said that Moffat had sexual intercourse with her. According to the probable cause, Moffat denied touching the child in a sexual manner, but said at the conclusion of the interview that “Children don’t lie”. Many who know him, including his girlfriend and some with whom he volunteers had voiced their support of him and concluded it was not something he would do.