Friday, September 14, 2012
No child porn on coach's computer
MINNEAPOLIS -- Investigators found no evidence of child pornography on computers taken from the home of a Minnesota football coach accused of having nude videos of his children on his cellphone, authorities said Friday.
Minnesota State Mankato coach Todd Hoffner was charged with two child pornography counts after three videos of his children were found on his work-issued cellphone when he took it to the university for service.
His attorney and wife have publicly rejected the charges as ridiculous, saying the videos simply captured the family's children being silly.
Blue Earth County Sheriff's Capt. Rich Murry said Friday a search of computers taken from the Hoffner home found "no additional items that would be considered child pornography." The information was being forwarded to the county attorney's office.
Hoffner's attorney, James Fleming, said he was confident authorities would not come up with any additional evidence and the case will focus on the images recovered from the cellphone.
"So now we are dealing with: Are these images in fact, child pornography?" Fleming said. "And I believe that it's going to be shown very clearly -- they are not."
The videos include images of Hoffner's children behaving "silly" after a bath, Fleming said.
Prosecutor Mike Hanson did not return phone messages seeking comment.
Hoffner was charged last month with one count of using minors in a sexual performance or pornographic work and one count of possessing child pornography. Both are felonies.
He was escorted off the football practice field after the videos were found, and remains on leave pending a university investigation.
At a hearing earlier Friday, Fleming pressed for greater access to the cellphone videos, saying he needed them to mount his defense. Fleming has seen the images but must go to the Blue Earth County Sheriff's Department to view them -- with officials looking over his shoulder.
Blue Earth District Court Judge Krista Jass took that request under advisement.
According to an affidavit in the case, audio on one of the videos includes a child saying: "Dad, that's not the show, make him do it right," and a man's voice says, "Do it over."
Fleming said the suggestion that Hoffner was directing his children is "absolutely wrong."
"I've seen that affidavit. And I have seen the video. And that representation is wrong," he said.
The affidavit says university officials also came across a video of a roughly 40-year-old "naked adult male jumping off a boat skinny dipping."
Fleming said Hoffner is frustrated, and the publicity has made the case difficult.
"He's very protective of his family," he said.
Hoffner is entering his fifth year as head football coach at Minnesota State Mankato. He led the team to the playoffs in 2008 and 2009 and a share of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference title in 2011.
He has a 34-13 record at Minnesota State Mankato, and was named NSIC coach of the year in 2009.