QUINCY — The Milton High School coach accused of indecent assault in kissing a 16-year-old member of his track team suffers from Parkinson’s disease and is receiving a drug that has increased his libido while decreasing impulse control, his defense attorney argued Monday.
“I’m going to suggest that we intend to pose a medical defense in this particular case to the allegations that have been brought,” defense attorney Thomas Lawton told Judge Mark Coven.
Dale Snyder pleaded not guilty in Quincy District Court to one count of indecent assault and battery and two counts of assault and battery. Coven set bail for the 64-year-old Abington resident at $10,000 cash, which Snyder posted Monday.
Snyder, who was handcuffed and whose thick, light-gray hair was somewhat tousled, appeared dazed during the arraignment.
Lawton told the judge that a key issue is how Snyder, a married man with a teenage child, had changed since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s about two years ago. Those changes have intensified while he receives a drug that Lawton identified as Stalevo.
The attorney told Coven that Snyder’s impulse control has weakened since the treatment began. At the same time, Snyder’s libido has increased, the attorney said.
While there is no clear indication that the drug causes those side effects, several published medical papers, including one posted on the National Institutes of Health’s website, suggest a link between levodopa, a drug contained in Stalevo, and hypersexuality and decreased impulse control.
Snyder, who is scheduled to retire June 24 after 27 years in the Milton public schools, is accused of indecently assaulting the unidentified girl on June 2 in his office at the high school. The assault took place two days after Snyder and the girl had an uneventful meeting at the office, said Assistant Norfolk District Attorney Adam C. Lally.
On June 2, Lally said, Snyder was sitting at his desk when he reached out and took the student by the hand. He first kissed her on the cheek and then told her, “Now for the big one.’’ He then kissed the girl on the lips, Lally said.
The prosecutor said the teenager broke away from Snyder and told him she was uncomfortable. The longtime track coach told the teenager not to discuss the incident, Lally said.
The kissing incident was just the latest chapter in what the prosecutor called Snyder’s “special interest’’ in the student. He said that in recent weeks, Snyder gave the girl a leather bracelet and followed her on his bike as she rode her bike home.
In an interaction witnessed by the girl’s mother, Snyder allegedly gave the teen his business card and told her to contact him so they could bike together.
Snyder is scheduled to be back in court June 26 for a pretrial conference. He was ordered to stay away from the school and the student and to have no unsupervised contact with anyone under 18.
Before that order was issued, Milton School Superintendent Mary C. Gormley said in a statement to parents and staff that Snyder was placed on paid administrative leave. Gormley did not respond to requests Monday seeking an update on Snyder’s status.
Milton resident Deana Martin attended the arraignment in a show of support for Snyder, whom she described as a “good guy” devoted to the high school.
Martin said she does not know who the girl is and does not know details about the allegations. Martin said she had not heard of other misconduct allegations against Snyder, just complaints from some parents that in a recent speech at a booster dinner the coach was “off-color, but funny.’’
“I never heard anything salacious,’’ said Martin, whose son is a student in Snyder’s chemistry class.
Martin said she has been told by school officials that Snyder was supposed to retire before the current school year but agreed to stay on the job because the school was short a chemistry teacher. She said her son and other students have complained that Snyder speaks too softly and mumbles in class, which she believes were signs that his Parkinson’s disqualified him as a teacher.
“I can’t say [the charges are] bogus. I’m not the parent of the girl and I can’t say exactly what he did,’’ she told reporters before the arraignment. “What I’m saying is he should never have been brought back to teach.