Thomas Snider is behind bars on charges that he committed lewd acts with as many as 25 male students, and now those around the Torrance High School wrestling coach say they’re shocked at the allegations.
Police had been investigating the 47-year-old Snider since January, when several students came forward to accuse the coach of sexual misconduct. The high school placed him on administrative leave during the investigation, and on Wednesday police arrested Snider on multiple charges of child annoyance and lewd acts.
Police have not said exactly what the alleged lewd acts entail, or whether they took place on school property or at some other place.
Some of the Torrance High School wrestling team said they were shocked to hear the allegations against Thomas Snider.
“I think they’re shocked and … everyone really doesn’t know what’s gonna happen next,” said Brian Araiza, one of the team’s captains.
Araiza admitted he had heard rumors about Snider’s alleged sexual misconduct, but “never really paid attention” and said he never saw it himself.
Others expressed doubts. Elba Ruiz, a 43-year-old parent of a Torrance student, said it was hard to believe the allegations against Snider.
“He’s a nice person,” she said. “He was my son’s teacher and he never said anything to me that would make me think he would do something like this.”
Snider’s attorney has also vigorously denied the charges and insisted that Thomas is innocent. The lawyer, Rosty Gore, added that Snider has cooperated fully with the investigation.
“He categorically denies any merit to any criminal charges he may face,” said Gore.
“His life is now being basically destroyed,” Gore said. “They have been truly suffering because of these false claims.”
The school district did not say much, though Snider was still listed among the faculty at the school.
“Mr. Snider has been a TUSD teacher since 1990, teaching career technical education courses,” according to a statement released Wednesday from the Torrance Unified School District. “He was hired as the THS wrestling coach two years ago. As this is a personnel and legal matter, the District will have no further comment pending the outcome of the court proceedings.”
The 25 students Snider is accused of molesting are all members of the wrestling team, the Torrance police said. The boys range in age from 13 to 16.
Thomas Snider was arraigned on Thursday on charges of committing lewd acts with as many as 25 students. He is being held in jail on $900,000 bail.
[Image via Torrance Police Department]