GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Stepping in front of the cameras for the first time, the wife of football coach Todd Hoffner defended her husband who has been accused of possessing and producing child pornography of his children.
"The charges against my husband are ridiculous and baseless," said Melodee Hoffner. "My family does what every family does. We take videos and pictures of our kids in all their craziness."
Hoffner is on leave as the head football coach at Minnesota State University Mankato pending the outcome of his case.
His wife, a licensed school counselor, says her husband was simply taking innocent videos of their three children, ages 9, 8 and 5 dancing naked.
"I am fully aware of the signs and indicators of children who have been abused. And I assure you our children have not been exploited or abused." she said.
Blue Earth County attorney disagrees, charging the once coach of the year with production and possession of child pornography.
Prosecutors describe videos found on Hoffner's university-issued cell phone as sexual performances. Investigators found out about the videos after Hoffner turned his phone over to the university's IT department to get it fixed.
The criminal complaint alleges two of the videos show the children dropping their towels and dancing around naked in a sexual manor.
The other video shows one of the girls being awakened in bed and told to go to the bathroom. The video then allegedly shows the camera focusing on the back of the girl's underwear. Hoffner says that can easily be explained.
"One of my daughters has difficulty during the night and we decided to wake her up during the night to go the bathroom," said Hoffner. "When we told her about this, she wanted to see it."
The assistant Blue Earth County attorney prosecuting the case was not available for comment.
"I don't even know how to predict this case. I can tell you this, it's very sad," said Joe Daly, a former defense attorney and current law professor at Hamline University.
While Daly questions why Hoffner would be shooting naked videos of his older kids, an 8-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter, he says defining what is and what is not pornographic can be tough.
"This is a very grey area of the law," he said. "I'm personally glad I'm not the prosecutor in this case. And I'm also personally glad I'm not the defense attorney in this case. I'd rather be a professor studying this case."
He also wonders if Hoffner would have been charged if it weren't for what happened at Penn State.
"I don't think we'd be here if Penn State hadn't occurred. I think we're all in heightened state of alert," he said.
He understands why the university, police, and prosecutors would take this case so seriously. But without watching the videos, he says it's difficult to understand what really happened.
"Without looking at those videos we don't know," he said.
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