On Thursday March 10th, eighteen Torrance High School students filed suit against the Torrance Unified School District, alleging its administration failed to protect the students from ongoing sexual abuse at the hands of wrestling coach Thomas Snider. In April 2015, Thomas Snider was charged with 46 felony counts of lewd conduct and child molestation. Snider, who is currently free on $2 million bail, pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Thomas Snider worked for the Torrance school district since 1990 as a career technical education teacher, and was hired as Torrance High School's wrestling coach two years ago. A criminal complaint filed by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office charged Snider with felony counts of inappropriately touching children and misdemeanor counts of child molesting. According to the complaint, all 25 students Snider is accused of molesting were members of Torrance High's wrestling team, ranging in ages from 13 to 16. Snider was placed on paid administrative leave after several students disclosed allegations of sexual abuse in January of 2015, and was placed on unpaid leave after his arrest in April.
The lawsuit claims the school district ignored sexual abuse allegations against Snider for years, turning a blind eye as Snider assaulted them in the locker room. The boys allege Snider inappropriately touched their genitalia under the pretense of performing 'skin checks'. The suit seeks damages for negligence in hiring and supervision, fraud, infliction of emotional distress, breach of fiduciary duty, sexual harassment, and public entity liability for failure to perform mandatory reporting responsibilities.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs include firm Manly, Stewart and Finaldi and the Senators Firm, who jointly won almost $140 million in damages from the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2014 for 81 children sexually abused by Torrance teacher Mark Berndt. Nearly all of the boys allegedly molested have pursued legal action - this lawsuit is the largest of three civil cases currently filed against the district on behalf of Snider's alleged victims. Snider's criminal trial could begin before summer. If convicted, Snider faces life in prison.