WPTV typically does not identify juveniles who are not charged with crimes. However, because of the details outlined in the defendant’s motion to dismiss, which is a public record, WPTV is reporting the details set forth in the defendant’s court filing, which identifies the juvenile who was not charged with a crime.
Prosecutors are doubling down on their argument that the assistant principal of Palm Beach Central High School in Wellington was legally required to report the suspected sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl, even though he didn't believe suspect, his own son, had committed a crime.
Daniel Snider, 49, has filed a motion to dismiss the failure to report sexual abuse charge against him.
The motion said Snider did not feel his son had sexually assaulted the girl in April 2021 and was therefore not required to report the allegations under state law.
However, in a legal response filed Monday, the State Attorney's Office argued that Snider was presented with enough evidence that, at the very least, required him to notify the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Prosecutors are now asking Judge Scott Suskauer to deny Snider's motion, which is scheduled to be heard on Oct. 30.
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According to a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office incident report, a 15-year-old girl claimed Snider's son "repeatedly inappropriately touched" her at Lake Worth Beach on April 2, 2021.
The State Attorney's Office said that, months later, on Aug. 16, 2021, the girl told a friend in chorus class that she was "molested" by Snider's son.
That friend then went to Snider directly and "plainly stated" that his son had "committed a sexual assault," the State Attorney's Office said in its legal response.
Snider told the girl to fill out a student incident statement, in which she reiterated the allegations against Snider's son. Snider then read the entire statement in front of the girl, according to the State Attorney's Office.
Snider reported the allegations to Palm Beach Central High School principal Darren Edgecomb, 59, who's also under arrest in the case. Snider did not, however, notify DCF, which the State Attorney's Office said he was required to do as a mandatory reporter under state law.
According to the State Attorney's Office response, regardless of whether Snider felt his son was innocent, he was "presented with evidence that at the very least required DCF notification."
Prosecutors added that the friend's "verbal and written communications deserved and demanded DCF reporting."
"His personal thoughts and feelings about his son's actions have no place here, and while he may want to believe his son could never do such a thing, he was nevertheless presented with evidence that at the very least required DCF notification," the State Attorney's Office said in its response.
Prosecutors admitted that Snider was perhaps in a "precarious position" because the allegations were against his son. However, "reporting cases of abuse to DCF is what gets the ball rolling, not what wraps up a case," the response said.
Snider's attorney, Leonard Feuer, released the following written statement to WPTV on Tuesday about the State Attorney's Office response:
"We are reviewing it and are still awaiting a response to the constitutional arguments made in our motion. The response they filed addresses only one part of the motion. We anticipate filing a reply soon showing we are still entitled to a dismissal."
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Under the state law for which Snider is facing a charge, "any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is the victim of sexual abuse or juvenile sexual abuse shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the central abuse hotline."
However, Snider's motion to dismiss takes issue with the phrase "reasonable cause to suspect," as Snider "maintains to this day that his son is innocent of any alleged sexual abuse or juvenile sexual abuse," according to the motion.
"Daniel Snider did not know or suspect his son had committed an act of sexual abuse or juvenile sexual abuse," the motion said, and therefore was not obligated to report the allegations to DCF under state law, Feuer argued.
In addition, Snider has text messages between his son and the girl to back up his beliefs, the motion said.
Snider's attorney argued that if the assistant principal had "made a report to the central abuse hotline under these circumstances, where he had every reason to believe the report was false," he risked violating Florida law by making a false report.
The motion added that "Daniel Snider did not prevent another person from reporting such information to the central abuse hotline of the Department of Children and Families."
Snider's motion also references a School District of Palm Beach County policy titled "Teen Dating Violence or Abuse," which states that a "'relative of the victim or accused/perpetrator' may not be involved in the investigation of such complaints."
Finally, the motion said Snider has a right to privacy and a right to protect his son. It said Snider "has a right to not be compelled to betray his son by being forced to utter to the government very harmful accusations about his son that he does not even believe."
Snider's son was never arrested or charged in the case because, ultimately, the father of the 15-year-old girl did not want to pursue criminal charges against the boy.
Snider, Edgecomb, assistant principal Nereyda Cayado De Garcia, 58, chorus teacher Scott Houchins, 53, and school behavioral therapist Priscilla Carter, 55, were arrested on July 24.
All of the staffers have pleaded not guilty.
WPTV has learned that four of the five employees arrested have been employed with the School District of Palm Beach County for more than 20 years. All have been reassigned to positions away from students.
Reggie Myers, the retired former principal at Park Vista Community High School, is now serving as the interim principal of Palm Beach Central High School.