Judge Tosses Child Porn Case Against Minnesota State-Mankato CoachA judge threw out child pornography charges against a Minnesota college football coach Friday, agreeing with his assertion that cellphone video of his kids dancing naked after a bath was nothing more than innocent child's play.
By: Patrick Condon, Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS — A judge threw out child pornography charges against a Minnesota college football coach Friday, agreeing with his assertion that cellphone video of his kids dancing naked after a bath was nothing more than innocent child's play.
Todd Hoffner, the head coach at Minnesota State University-Mankato, has been on administrative leave since the videos were discovered on his university-issued cellphone in August.
Hoffner testified earlier that his three young children asked them to videotape a skit they had concocted. His wife, Melodee, defended him and supporters even held candlelight vigils on his behalf as the case played out. Social workers found no evidence the couple's children had been abused, and a search of his home computer found no evidence of child porn.
Blue Earth County District Judge Krista Jass said she didn't find any evidence that the videos amounted to pornography.
"The videos under consideration here contain nude images of Defendant's minor children dancing and acting playful after a bath. That is all they contain," Jass wrote in her 24-page ruling.
Hoffner's attorneys declined comment ahead of a Friday afternoon news conference. The county attorney's office had no immediate comment.
Dan Benson, a university spokesman, said Hoffner would remain on administrative leave pending the school's own investigation. He had no timetable for when that could be completed.
Hoffner, 46, of Eagle Lake, was charged in August with one count of using minors in a sexual performance or pornographic work and one count of possessing child pornography. Both are felonies.
Besides the seriousness of the charges, they sidelined Hoffner for what has turned to be an outstanding season for the Mavericks. They are 12-0 and host Missouri Western at noon Saturday in the national Division II quarterfinals.
At an earlier hearing on his motion for dismissal, Hoffner testified he had told his children to go take a bubble bath last June so he could get some work done. Hoffner said the children later came down in towels and asked him to videotape them. He said he never directed the kids, and never watched the video afterward or showed it to anyone.
The videos came to light after Hoffner took his problematic cellphone to work to be checked out.
Prosecutor Mike Hanson had argued earlier that the decision on whether or not the videos were pornography should be left to a jury, and disputed the claim that the images were innocent family fun.
Hoffner was entering his fifth year as head football coach at the school, where he had a 34-13 record. He led the Mavericks to the playoffs in 2008 and 2009 and a share of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference title in 2011. He was named NSIC coach of the year in 2009.