A jury found a San Clemente children's book writer not guilty of nearly all the counts against him in a case that accused him of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old female relative and another 9-year-old girl.
Michael William Snyder was convicted Friday afternoon of three misdemeanor counts of simple battery, but because the 47-year-old had 1,150 days of jail credit since his Sept. 15, 2011, arrest, he was expected to be kicked loose over the weekend.
Had Snyder been found guilty of all the charges against him, he could have received a 90-year prison sentence, which probably explains why he choked up and fished a handkerchief out of his pocket when it became clear he had been acquitted of the most serious sex charges.
"The Lord Jesus Christ has prevailed," Snyder's mother Linda said of the verdicts in Paul Anderson's City News Service report from the courtroom. "The holy spirit was with the jury and the truth was revealed."
"Mr. Mike," who wrote Lemon Drop Rain, Over the Top and Swimming in Chocolate for his Beetle Bug Books imprint, was originally accused of rubbing the then-12-year-old girl's chest and stomach under her shirt on several occasions, having her sit on his lap while he tried to arouse either her or himself and instructing her not to tell anyone between June 2010 and March 2011.
When the girl told her mother she did not want to be alone with Snyder, the mother became suspicious and asked her questions that led to the molestation allegation that was reported to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Publicity from Snyder's arrest led the family of the then-9-year-old girl to come forward. It was then additionally alleged that, between Jan. 1, 2008, and Sept. 7, 2010, Snyder put his hand up the back of the younger girl, a family friend, and rubbed her back, and of having her over to his home before taking her to Sea World and orally copulating her.
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Jurors deliberated for about two days before concluding Snyder touched the older girl inappropriately but not necessarily criminally and that the younger girl had been coached.
While that may look like a win for Snyder on the judicial scoreboard, he has lost much. His wife took her own life while the case was pending, according to Snyder's father, who added his son was not present to help her with her "mental health" issues.
"His whole life was taken away from him," the father says of his son.