Thomas Joseph Snider, a 47-year-old man from Torrance, California, was arrested on Wednesday afternoon after being charged with 33 felony counts of inappropriately touching children, and eight misdemeanor counts of child molesting, involving as many as 25 male students from the high school where he worked as a wrestling coach.
According to KTLA, Snider turned himself in on his own free will after a three-month investigation, stemming from allegations several boys on his wrestling team made against him.
Torrance Police Sgt. Paul Kranke told the media that the boys Snider has reportedly been molesting were in between the ages of 13 and 16, and the alleged incidents started occurring in September 2013, and continued until January 2015.
Brian Araiza is the high school team’s wrestling captain, and he said that he had heard rumors about Snider being inappropriate with the boys on his team, but he never really believed it.
“They said it was happening,” Araiza said. “But I never really paid attention.”
Some parents told the media that they couldn’t believe that Snider would do such a thing.
Maria Rincon is a Torrance resident that lives near the school, and she called the arrest of Snider discouraging.
“The police wouldn’t do anything — in terms of arresting him — if they didn’t have proof.”
Thomas Snider’s attorney, Rusty Gore, says that his client vehemently denies all the charges that he is facing at this time. Gore says that his client is innocent, and tells the media about how this has all affected Snider’s life.
“His life is now being basically destroyed,” Gore said. “They have been truly suffering because of these false claims.”
Snider was hired by the Torrance school district in 1990 as their career technical education teacher, and was given the position of high school wrestling coach two years ago, which is approximately when all the incidents reportedly started. Although Snider is still listed as a staff member on the TUSD website, the school did place him on administrative leave when the investigation started back in January.
On Thursday, Snider appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom to enter his plea on the charges, and not surprisingly, he entered a plea of not guilty on all 41 counts against him. Snider is still being held at the jail on $900,000 bond and is due back in court on April 20, 2015. If Snider is convicted on all counts, he can face a maximum sentence of more that 37 years in a state prison.
Snider is married and has three children.
[Photo courtesy of KTLA]