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Steve Karnowski, Associated Press, Published October 31 2012

Mankato coach says videos he took innocent, not child porn

MANKATO, Minn. – A Minnesota football coach accused of making pornographic videos of his children told a judge Wednesday that the images merely show a skit that his children came up while in the bathtub and asked him to record.

Minnesota State, Mankato, coach Todd Hoffner’s testimony as he asked a judge to dismiss the felony charges against him were his first public comments since he was escorted off a practice field in August, shortly after the university found the images on his work-issued cellphone. Hoffner has been on leave since then.

Hoffner testified that he had told his three 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 watched the video afterward or showed it to anyone.

The images, in which some of the children were naked, showed nothing more than the children being silly, laughing and dancing, Hoffner said.

“There was nothing inappropriate about any of these videos,” Hoffner said.

Hoffner’s wife, Melodee, has defended him, calling the videos innocent family moments that were misinterpreted by authorities. 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’s attorney, Jim Fleming, earlier called three veteran law officers to the stand Wednesday to try to show they had doubts about whether the videos amounted to child pornography.

But under questioning by prosecutor Mike Hanson, the investigators said they found the videos disturbing and that they raised questions with the Blue Earth County Attorney’s Office simply to find out what laws applied.

The videos are under a court seal.

Hanson said in his closing statement that the decision on whether the videos are pornographic should be left to a jury and disputed the claim that they’re innocent family fun.

Judge Krista Jass didn’t immediately rule on the motion to dismiss the charges.

She gave attorneys until Nov. 14 to file additional briefs.