Twenty Los Angeles, Calif.-area boys who say a Torrance High School wrestling coach sexually abused them are suing the school district and administrators, claiming they failed to protect the teens and ignored past allegations, attorneys announced Thursday.
The lawsuits were filed this week and last against Torrance Unified School District, the high school and administrators.
The lawsuits say former coach Thomas Joseph Snider had a history of abuse complaints before the school hired him and that administrators ignored least one complaint by one of their own students sometime between 2007 and 2010.
The district said in a statement that administrators acted immediately after a Torrance High School employee learned of possible inappropriate conduct by Snider on Jan. 26, 2015. The statement said the district put Snider on administrative leave, notified police and has cooperated with the investigation.
Snider, 48, has pleaded not guilty to 47 charges of molestation and committing lewd acts on boys between September 2013 and February 2015, mostly on school property. The boys were between 13 and 16.
The lawsuits say the abuse consisted of Snider performing “skin checks” on the boys, groping and fondling their genitals.
Snider’s attorney, James Tedford, didn’t immediately return a call for comment. He has previously said the skin checks were to make sure the boys didn’t have conditions such as ringworm.
Snider, who was released after posting $2 million bail in June, is awaiting trial. He faces decades in prison if convicted.
After administrators ignored the abuse report filed between 2007 and 2010, Snider “continued his rampant sexual abuse of minor students, robbing them of their trust, peace of mind, innocence and childhood,” according to one of the lawsuits.
The duration and extent of the abuse alleged could not have occurred unless administrators turned a blind eye, the lawsuit says.