Judge tosses child porn case against Minnesota State, Mankato, football coachMINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota judge on Friday dismissed child pornography charges against a college football coach accused of making pornographic videos of his children.
By: Associated Press , Worthington Daily Globe
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota judge on Friday dismissed child pornography charges against a college football coach accused of making pornographic videos of his children.
Blue Earth County District Judge Krista Jass granted coach Todd Hoffner's request for dismissal, saying she didn't see anything in the videos of an explicit sexual nature.
"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 ruling.
Hoffner, the head coach at Minnesota State, Mankato, 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. Prosecutors said he made videos of his children performing lewd acts while naked. But Hoffner and his wife insisted all along that the videos were merely images of children acting silly and dancing after taking a bath.
Hoffner, 46, of Eagle Lake, has been on leave from his coaching job since August, after the images were found on his work-issued cellphone.
Hoffner's attorneys declined immediate comment, saying they planned a news conference later Friday in Mankato. The county attorney's office had no immediate comment.
A message left for a university spokesman wasn't immediately returned.
At a hearing in October, Hoffner testified that the night he shot the video, in June 2011, he had told his three children to take a bubble bath 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.
"There was nothing inappropriate about any of these videos," Hoffner said at the hearing.
Prosecutor Mike Hanson has said the decision on whether or not the videos were pornography should be left to a jury. He has disputed the claim that the images were innocent family fun.
"Adults should not make videos of children in lewd poses. Period," he has said.
During the investigation, social workers found no evidence the couple's children had been abused, and a search of Hoffner's home computer found no evidence of child porn.
Hoffner was entering his fifth year as head football coach at Division II Minnesota State, Mankato, 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. The Mavericks are undefeated at 9-0 in his absence, under acting coach Aaron Keen.
Hoffner has had support in the community, with some supporters holding a candlelight vigil outside his home as the case was pending.