Steven J. Snedden does most of his work in college libraries. Unfortunately, none of his efforts can be characterized as research.
The 47-year-old registered sex offender, whose exploits have helped the Washington Supreme Court define criminal law, pleaded guilty Wednesday to yet another charge of indecent exposure stemming from a 2008 incident in which he twice masturbated in front of a student at the JFK Library on the Cheney campus of Eastern Washington University.
He appeared Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno.
Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Ed Hay told the judge that Snedden has several charges “stemming from quite similar events in college libraries.”
The homeless man, originally from Nebraska, has at least 11 convictions in four states for either lewd conduct or indecent exposure. More severe charges of second-degree burglary with sexual motivation came in 2001 after he continued to visit Gonzaga University’s Foley Library after he had been told not to return.
Snedden pleaded guilty to the 2001 indecent exposure charge, but appealed the burglary conviction on the grounds that exposing himself to someone was not a crime against a person.
According to court documents, Snedden would find a female student studying alone in the library’s periodicals section. He would make a loud noise to get her attention. Then he would sit cross-legged behind a nearby bookshelf and remove enough books to create a clear line of sight between himself and the student. He would expose himself and begin masturbating while maintaining eye contact with the victim.
The case went to the state Supreme Court, which ruled in 2003 that Snedden’s act was in fact a crime against a person and therefore constituted burglary.
That ruling was the legal highlight of a rap sheet that includes convictions for mostly small-time crimes in California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois, Utah, Wyoming and Washington. In late April 2003, after a conviction for obstructing an officer in Spokane, Snedden was extradited to Montana to face indecent exposure charges there, according to newspaper archives.
When he was arrested in the most recent case, Snedden had a warrant for his arrest out of New Mexico for failure to pay fines for an indecent liberties conviction in that state, according to court records.
According to sentencing recommendations announced Wednesday, Snedden likely will face another year in prison when Moreno sentences him Sept. 8.