LOS ANGELES --As a former Torrance High School wrestling coach awaits trial on multiple molestation charges, a group of students are suing the district for failing to protect them.
Attorneys for the group of more than 20 wrestling team members say the Torrance Unified School District missed warning signs about alleged molestation by former coach Thomas Joseph Snider for more than a decade.
The attorneys noted there was a police report with molestation allegations against Snider filed in 2004, but he remained at the school.
Snider was arrested in April 2015 and now stands charged with 47 counts of lewd acts on a child. He was initially held on $2 million bail, but remains free after posting bond in June.
Prosecutors say he groped and fondled the wrestlers during what he called "skin checks."
The school district, however, argues that it acted quickly when it learned of allegations against Snider.
A statement from the district reads in part: "On January 26, 2015, when a Torrance High School employee learned of possible inappropriate conduct by Mr. Snider, Torrance High School administration acted immediately by placing Mr. Snider on administrative leave. The District immediately notified the Torrance Police Department."
But attorneys for the students who filed the civil lawsuit dismiss that claim as inaccurate.
"They did nothing," said attorney John Manly. "And to put a statement out this morning that they had no idea until 2015 is not only deceptive and dishonest, but it's re-victimizing these kids."
Snider has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges. No trial date has been set.
If convicted, he could face up to 37 years in state prison.