Friday, April 13, 2007

Robert Snyder

Chess Teacher sexually molested three of his students. The charges were filed after the father of one of his students found Snyder and his son in the boy's room with a chair wedged against the shut door.

Click HERE for the story from the Denver Channel.com.

A chess teacher who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a child was sentenced Wednesday to two years in County Jail with 10 years to life of probation, the Larimer County District Attorney's office said.

Robert Snyder pleaded guilty to one count each of sexual assault on a child and unlawful sexual contact after being accused in 2005 of sexually assaulting three of his students. Snyder faced four counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and two counts of sexual assault on a child pattern of abuse. The abuses were alleged to have happened at his home in late 2002 and the summer of 2005.

The district attorney's office said that for the duration of his probation Snyder will be on a sexual intensive probation, which is meant to make sure he is always monitored and has no contact with children. Officials said once he is out of jail, he must register as a sex offender and must submit to genetic counseling. The DA's office said he must also write a letter of apology to the victim.

Snyder owned the Fort Collins-based Chess For Juniors that operated out of his home.
The recent charges weren't the first to surface regarding Snyder who moved to Colorado from California in 2000. In 1983, he was found not guilty on four counts of sexual assault a California student. A judge dismissed the fifth count against him, according to the Los Angeles Times. The charges were filed after the father of one of his students found Snyder and his son in the boy's room with a chair wedged against the shut door, the Times reported.

The not guilty verdicts came after a four-week trial and two hours of deliberation by the jury.
Snyder is the author of several chess books published by Random House, which includes the bestseller "Chess For Juniors," and has written articles for "Chess Life" and "School Mates" magazines, according to his Web site. The Web site also said that Snyder taught the game to students such as actor Will Smith, and the son of actor Nicholas Cage.

26 comments:

Andrius Kulikauskas said...

The charges against Robert Snyder are grave. I have faith that the justice system is fair in caring for the victims and preventing future abuse.

Thank you for providing the opportunity to comment. You seem to prefer to be anonymous. I choose to give my name: Andrius Kulikauskas

I was a chess student of Robert's from about 1977 to 1981, ages thirteen to sixteen or so.

Robert is one of the finest people I know, certainly among chess players. He's made a difference in hundreds of people's lives, helping them discover and foster their genius. I'm very glad that he's shared his gifts as an author as well.

Once, when I was his student, he used a chair to keep the door shut. He said this was because his mother had a habit of disturbing lessons. Then he sat next to me, gazed at me and asked if I knew how special I was to him? I told him angrily that I was very uncomfortable with him and he must sit on the other side of the board and keep the door unlocked. Later, I told my mother. I was going to quit the lessons, and I thought it was very wrong what he did, and something should be done. She said that it was up to me, but inclined me not to judge too harshly. I did continue the lessons and he behaved correctly.

A few years later, he was charged in a rather similar situation, but he was found not guilty and a charge was dimissed.

Robert was, at heart, a child and his gregariousness was always childlike. I don't think our world has much place for that, but certainly he made our world better. He was always vulnerable, and I am sad that he hurt others who were vulnerable.

I think that Robert is creative enough and positive enough to find a way to apply his talents without focusing on children. I hope that our society is healthy enough to include somebody like Robert.

My feeling in these situations is that our society is not supportive of people like Robert who are struggling to make the best of the genetic predisposition they have been dealt. Our society is sick and we're not much interested to seek a cure.

Jesus speaks of hell as a place that will forever burn away, clean away all of our faults. I could wish that for all of us.

I hope yet that we all might have the impact that Robert has, and that together we might all enjoy heaven.

Thank you for allowing me to post here.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand this whole thing was a shakedown by those who filed lawsuits to in an attempt to get money from this self made millionare in chess. Using the "Witchhunt" for personal, political and financial gain is not new. Understanding that the man had taught tens of thousands of students and rumors spread by competitors and those with something to gain finding only three or four who would make an allegation is not surprizing. The system also allows prosecutors to threaten a life sentence with a biased jury after negative publicity in liu of a much smaller sentence even making defense attorneys begging their client to "take the deal" in the system when the client is running out of money and cannot afford a two month trial against the state. Mr. Kulikauskas, your thoughts are based on what the press has presented in what was "feed" to them by the system. I bet your were never touched inapropriately in anyway by this man after spending a lot of time with him and if I am right you should think think twice or even thrice before passing judgment. I perhaps have my own bios (which I admit) knowing someone who was falsley accused by five and only to find out the entire thing was a scam after the person was sentence to life then later the guilt of two of those who put him there came forward with the truth. Our Society can distroy people on the whim of one or two people leading to a chain reaction that in the press might seem to make the person look like you would see them in hell. Have an open mind and truley make your own oppinions based on your own personal experience. You have basically provided a testimonial that this man never actualy touched you or anyone close to you after spending time with them.

Anonymous said...

sometime around 1999, robert molested my then future brother in law who was a student at his "chess for juniors" in huntington beach. robert had been a trusted friend to the family. he visited on family holidays, took the victim to play chess with wil smith, and traveled with him to chess tournaments in other states.

the victims family was wealthy. the father was a self made millionaire, and to suggest that money was a motive is absurd and wrong.

i can only imagine that the anonymous reply to this blog was the accused, and not "the friend".

having been abused myself, and knowing the signs, i can tell you with certainty that this child was abused.

Swift Foxe said...

I am unfortunate to share this man's name, only because when I Google myself this comes up. I am a published graduate student, and have no relation to him. He was teaching chess before I was born.

If the allegations were true, he should have found an ethical outlet for his sexual predilections, and his supposed actions were wrong and disturbed and the corrective action was duly enforced. It is impossible for me to truly know what happened or who this man is, so it is impossible for me to pass judgment.

Regardless of the hype and circumstantial evidence, I wish that maybe I could find links to my own career when I Google Robert Snyder. Why does being convicted of molesting children make someone #1 on a search engine?

I don't like seeing my name come up first as "People You'll See in Hell". That also assumes the reader will be going to hell, yes?

Anonymous said...

I was a student of his from 86 to 88 I totally thought he was gay everyone did he had about 100 or so students at that time and all the ones I talked to thought it was funny he was never seen with a woman and lived with his parents where he taught his classes. A few times we asked him about girls or a girlfriend and he changed the subject. But he never tryed anything with me personally he did show me his M-16 one time well I was waiting for my mom to pick me up. Which I thought was cool( i was 14) but also really weird this does not surprise me at all and I'm glad I didn't go to the jr. high nationals in 88 or 87 like I was suppose. Looking back now I can see why my school chess teach Mr. Barber didn't like the guy. I was never aware of his previous court case if my family would of known of it I probably would never have went to his classes. Yeah I learned alot from this guy probably increased my rating by 200 but that doesn't excuse being a baby raper. I hope he gets everything coming to him in prison.

Anonymous said...

TODAY IS CAPS LOCK DAY AND ROBERTO SNYDERO THE GREAT SHOULD BE LET GO BECAUSE OF THE KOTORNESS IN HIM, HE IS MY FRIEND! RAWR, I HAVE RUINED THE COMMENTS SECTION OF THIS WITH MY CAPS LOCK OF FURY ON CAPS LOCK DAY!

~THE GUY

Anonymous said...

My son was a student of his for a couple years and swears he never touched him despite the many times he was alone with him. I do find it interesting that that those who have first hand experience say he never touched them.

Anonymous said...

My son had one chess lesson with Robert Snyder in Fort Collins, CO in 2000 when he was just six years old. My wife did not allow my son to have another lesson because of her observations of Snyder's behavior. I am glad that my wife had her incredible first instinct.

Anonymous said...

I had twelve Chess lessons from Robert Snyder when he was 19 and I was 15 in Garden Grove, CA in 1975. He was so self-absorbed in his Chess success, that I could tell he wasn't socially adept enough to even think about anything else (and I was only 15). But he was focused on Chess the entire time. He never touched me or acted inappropriate in any way. He was awkward, but only 19. I don't know what age a boy becomes a man and then starts thinking about boys. But in my case, it was all Chess.

Anonymous said...

I know Mr. Kulikauskas first hand and I can attest that his story and experiences are true.

I took a few lessons from Mr. Snyder when I was a young player and I can attest that while he was definitely strange in his behavior, I highly doubt he is a sexual predator. He never made a move to touch me. I also went away on a trip with him for 10 days and there was nothing there either. Again, his behavior was childlike but not sexually predatorial. I tend to believe this whole thing is a witchhunt. I also know Mr. Barber and he did not have disgust for Mr. Snyder. He only thought that if the charges are true, he wanted justice to be dealt. He was never sure about the truth of the charges.

The main problem I have is people like John Walsh who have such hatred and judgement without completely 100% knowing if the charges are true but goes on a National TV show and calls him all kinds of names. This is irresponsible journalism on his part. He then claims this _______ was also tried in 1983. I am familiar with this case and understand the charges were dropped because there were many suspicions on part of the plaintiff.

Finally, I am not saying I know 100% the truth about Mr. Snyder, whether he is a sexual predator or just behaviorally completely immature. I can attest my personal experience was non-threatening. If the charges are true, then he should be handled accordingly. If they are not, Mr. Snyder should be compensated for his losses. I believe it is more a witchhunt than him being a sexual predator.

Anonymous said...

Just imagine, Robert Synder was found in Belize, Central America, living a new lie. I am sure most of you will be happy to know he is now back in the right hands.

Anonymous said...

I'm convinced The honorable Robert Snyder must have "relocated" to Belize to share his wealth of chess knowledge. I'm sure it had nothing to do with having to register as a sex offender, or being attracted to young boys.

Anonymous said...

Just adding my personal experience. I took lessons from him around 1974-76 or so, in his parents' home in Garden Grove. Nothing inappropriate ever happened. Of course, my experience doesn't mean others' claimed experiences either true or false -- I can only add one data point.

Jim said...

I knew Snyder around 1980... through a most bizzare coincidence. My family used to go camping a lot outside of Hemet, Ca, and I knew a kid that lived in the area and came to our campground on weekends. I was 18 at the time and my pal was probably 15. He talked about chess a lot, and said he had this really cool chess teacher that gave him lots of gifts and took him places - away from his parents. I met Snyder once at the campground lodge and since I wasn't into chess, he made no impression on me... yet. I quickly forgot about it until about 6 months later when, walking to my mailbox at the condo I lived at in Orange, Ca.... I saw my friend from the campground in the parking lot. BIG suprise. Orange and Hemet are 60 miles or more apart.... what was he doing HERE? He told me he had run away from home and that he was living with his chess teacher.... in the SAME complex that I lived in! Totally creepy. Within another month I was approached by Snyder who showed up without warning at MY condo, and he wanted me to lie to the police and say my friend was staying with me. If that didn't freak me out enough, a week later, my friends parents showed up at my condo complex, saw my, and figured I was part of some conspiricy with Snyder. I left my place for over 6 months after this.... don't know whatever happened to my friend, but I can only guess. 20+ years later, with all of the arrests and incarcerations, I guess I knew all along was was going on. I'm glad I was too old for his tastes.... who knows what I would've done if the creep touched me. Please excecute him, or sterilize him, or something.

Dre said...

I joined Chess for Juniors in 1992 when Robert's school was located in Garden Grove next to a tasty Vietnamese Soup joint. I believe I was about 11 at the time and I remained a student of Robert Snyder for about 3 or 4 years. I do remember going to at least 4 national tournaments with Robert and some other Chess for Junior kids. First in Gilbert, AZ, Chicago, IL, St. Lous, MO, and then Orlando, FL. Never recalled noticing anything inappropriate by Robert towards myself or the others. I don't think he was ever alone with any of the kids either, plus some parents came along during those tournaments. I continued to play chess years after I left Robert's Chess for Juniors, but looking back though, I can say Robert was a nice guy, but a horrible chess coach. His group classes consisted of almost nothing but figuring out checkmate patterns, and his study guides were nothing more than openings that we had to memorize. His private lessons took place at the school and he would just go over a recent game and point out the mistakes. It was decent, but not worth the price.

He was definitely a spoiled child. He used to yell at his dad in front of the students over little things. He wouldn't even call him "dad", but Igor. I still remember one of his silly rhymes... "Knight on the rim is dim, it chances are very slim." I guess it works though because I still remember it whenever I move my knight on the edge. He was actually pretty funny at times and we all looked up to him, but I began to dislike him after a national school grade tournament in Missouri when I failed to win the last round which was for 1st place. I remember I was so devastated! Instead of cheering me up, Robert got on my case and made me feel guilty for losing. After I told my pop about it, we started looking elsewhere for coaching and I began to compete in non-scholastic tournaments. I played one last club tournament in 95 or 96, got 1st place, but got scolded by Robert for winning a game with the French Defense instead of the Ruy Lopez which he wanted us to memorize up to like move 20 something of a particular variation.

I still have about 15 of his club tournament trophies with that same stupid angel on the top of each one, and also the last copy of his Snyder Sicilian book which he signed before taking me to the nationals in Chicago.

This news about Robert Snyder definitely took me by surprise. A lot of people thought he was weird, but I didn't think it was anything like this. Never thought he would end up on America's Most Wanted (Season 23, Episode 9).

I wonder if any of my fellow Chess for Junior teammates know about this, such as FIDE Master Harutnian Hakopian... Or even Asuka Nakamura, whose brother, Hikaru, is among the top grandmasters in the world.

Dre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Very hard to hear about the turn of events. My older, later my younger son, took lessons with Robert both in Garden Grove and Huntington Beach, both were shocked. I drove them to events and usually hung around reading in my car while waiting, but let's face it: there would have been opportunities to give indications to them in a way that they would have felt uncomfortable. Both were shocked to hear; they clearly remember him as somewhat dorky, absorbed with chess and ready to go on and on about possible moves the minute he detected genuine interest and passion in the game. Last anyone of us saw Robert in 1999 in Huntington Beach. Again, what a shocker. If he had these "tendencies" all his life, then they had not become apparent to any of us. Possibly these incidents happened later. Possibly these situations resulted over time - with students that were free to travel alone or just dropped off. A real shocker!!! Just a note to all parents: don't trust anyone to just leave your kids there. I suppose that there is always a chance that especially a genius (which he was) may have a vulnerable side that you do not want your kids exposed to.

Maybe he can apply his brilliant mind again at some point, be of service to less privileged people and rehabilitate himself this way.

Anonymous said...

My best friend was molested by this "wonderful friend". Whoever can have the mental capability to hurt a child is most definitely not welcome in anybody's life. She was eight years old when this happened. This has caused her severe trauma for the rest of her life and she was so powerless in the situation that she felt that what he was doing was ok at the time. She didnt understand it but she didnt question it. Can you imagine being and eight year old in that situation? I sure cant.

Anonymous said...

Robert touched and played with my genitalia when i was 9 years old. He commanded me to do the same to him. I was so frightened at the time, but I thought what we're doing was okay since I trusted him. He shoved his genitalia in my anus. I was so scared to tell my parents. I'm still traumatized to this day.

Anonymous said...

^ is a troll

Anonymous said...

^ is Robert

Anonymous said...

i also took lessons from robert from 1988 till 1991 both group lesson and private lessons never once did he ever touch me or even try to touch me. rober was a big kid a heart and i dont think he was accepted in the general public. i to played chess with andrius and (harry aka Harutnian)

TheBishopsWife said...

Many, many years I studied at Labate's in Buena Park, Ca.
Word among players was that Snyder liked little boys.

I hope he was not unfairly convicted. However, parents must take every step possible to protect children.

Howard Hunter

Anonymous said...

OK well..I needed something to goole for the pch sweetstakes. It's the only way I can gain an entry into the sweeps. At any rate I have run out of things to look up over the past 30 days of doing this so for the heck of it I put my brother's name in...in fact I would even venture to say he's the one that did the same and found the link to this guy. I would imagine that it bothered my brother to see this link quite a bit because our father and his father and all the brothers are all perverts that screw up childrens heads me being one of them. My uncle who was obviously also a snyder (which I don't capitalize the name on purpose because the name doesn't deserve it) molested me when I was a child and since it runs in the blood it's something that plagues my brother too. I think he thinks in the back of his head that he is not safe around kids that it will all of a sudden pop out and he wont be able to stop it.etc etc..I'm sooooooo happy that they are making these bastards take testing and what not. It's the least they can do. I'm sure this asswipe is a spawn of my G-G-Grandfather because the jack ass had like 50 children s. I'm so sorry for all the victims that suffered this fate of being exposed to this looser. On behalf of having this blood run through me I will pray fro you and it's not any easier being on this side of it...funny what a name can hold.

Anonymous said...

Hehe, I see what you did there. I think what also ran in the blood of your G-G-Grandfather was that of a T-T-Troll!

Anonymous said...

Goes to show you just never know. Synder wouldn't let the parents in the back of his studio in Huntington Beach. I too remember sitting in the car waiting for the lessons to end. I also remember an irate father yelling at Snyder. My son does not recall anything inappropriate, but then again some sexually abused children repress those memories.