TORRANCE (CBSLA) – The Torrance Unified School District this week reached a staggering $31 million settlement with two dozen students who were sexually molested by a high school wrestling coach.
The district confirmed Wednesday it will pay $31 million to settle a negligence lawsuit brought against TUSD by two dozen victims of Thomas Joseph Snider.
“This settlement spares these students and their families the difficulties of a protracted trial, while at the same time being mindful of the financial consequences stemming from settlements,” TUSD Superintendent George W. Mannon said in a statement to CBS2. “As a result, we believe we have struck a reasonable balance between these objectives.”
In October of 2016, a jury found the 50-year-old Snider guilty of molesting 25 students while a boy’s wrestling coach for Torrance High School.
The crimes occurred while Snider was coaching in 1995 and 1996, and from 2013 to 2015. He was arrested in April 2015. The victims were student-athletes on his teams and ranged between 13 and 16 years old, prosecutors said. Thomas molested them under the guise of inspecting them for skin diseases, according to evidence presented at the trial.
He was sentenced to 64 years to life in prison.
During the so-called skin inspections, Snider made the victims take off their clothing and would sometimes touch the victims’ genitals, prosecutors said. He also watched students shower and would massage several of them.
School officials became aware of the misconduct after students told opposing team members about the nude skin checks in 2013.
Attorneys for the victims were scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday morning outside Los Angeles County Superior Court in downtown L.A.
Here is Mannon’s full statement:
“The safety of all students in the Torrance Unified School District is a primary concern for all of us. We have continually reviewed our efforts to enhance student safety and are committed to continuing our efforts. One of the resources the District now provides every high school student is a list of crisis hotlines on the back of their identification cards. Students can call any of the numbers (anonymously) and get immediate support or help. As always, we encourage students if you See Something, Say Something.
“This settlement spares these students and their families the difficulties of a protracted trial, while at the same time being mindful of the financial consequences stemming from settlements. As a result, we believe we have struck a reasonable balance between these objectives.
“Our priority has been to resolve these cases without the need for potentially painful litigation for these families. We know these settlements will provide for the future needs of these students. We believe this will help close this chapter for these families.”
“Honestly, if I can kill him myself, but that wouldn’t work.[…] He ruined my son’s life,” one mother said after his sentencing in 2016.
The money will be distributed within two months.