A former Southern California wrestling coach who is facing charges of child molestation saw his case take a strange new tack amidst a debate over the legitimacy of nude skin checks.
As reported by the Torrance Daily Breeze, the former Torrance wrestling coach, Thomas Snider, has been charged with 47 counts of lewd conduct with children related to nude skin checks he performed on his players, allegedly to prevent the spread of ringworm and other skin rashes, among his student athletes. Some 26 of Snider’s former athletes have testified about feeling awkward in the aftermath of inspections that included Snider looking at players genitals with a flashlight and touching their rear ends.
Snider has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
Other coaches testified on Wednesday that their groom checks should not include an athlete stripping naked. CIF Southern Section assistant commissioner Glenn Martinez confirmed that correct protocol would have ensured players remained clothed during all inspections.
Yet former Torrance assistant wrestling coach Bernard Schafer also admitted under cross examination that, “contagious skin illnesses were a problem at the campus before Snider took the head coaching job three years ago and made showering, cleanliness and skin examinations a priority. About half the boys had a rash.”
A 50 percent positive correlation for student athletes and skin rashes would seem to be a perfectly justifiable reason to mandate skin checks of student athletes to spread the communicable skin conditions. That in itself is not a justification for forcing students to present themselves in the nude, but it did add a layer of intrigue to the processions of an explosive case that has lied in wait since January 2015, when Snider was placed on leave amidst an investigation into a separate alleged child molestation case dating to his time as a middle school teacher.
With Snider’s defense case set to begin, there could be more unique claims made in the weeks ahead. Whether or not they help his case may hinge on the sympathy of the jury and any correlation that they and others can make between Snider’s actions and reports that his computer hard drive was riddled with proof of past visits to gay pornography sites.