The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

September 14, 2012

Hoffner's attorney wants access to evidence

MANKATO — An attorney representing Minnesota State University head coach Todd Hoffner was in court Friday morning asking a judge to give him more access to videos that resulted in child pornography charges being filed against Hoffner last month.

Jim Fleming has only been allowed to watch the three videos once at the Blue Earth County Sheriff's Department while a deputy was present. Fleming has asked for a copy of the compact disc so he can review the evidence more closely, but Assistant Blue Earth County Attorney Mike Hanson has denied the request.

"I need this information to prepare for hearings and trial for my client," Fleming told District Court Judge Krista Jass. "There's also important sound information, which we may want to dispute, because it's misinformation or inaccurate."

The three videos, which show nude images of Hoffner's three young children, were found on a cellphone that had been provided to him by the university. They were discovered after Hoffner brought the phone to the university's Information Technology Department for repairs. The children are between the ages of 5 and 9.

University officials initially turned the videos over to the Mankato Department of Public Safety and placed Hoffner on administrative leave. The case was later turned over to the Blue Earth County Sheriff's Department because it was determined the videos, one of which allegedly shows Hoffner's son fondling himself and his two daughters spreading their buttocks for the camera, was created at the Hoffners' house in Eagle Lake.

Hoffner was arrested by sheriff's deputies when his house was searched Aug. 21. Two computers and a second cellphone were confiscated during the search.

In response to Fleming's request for video copies, Hanson said state and federal laws, including the federal Adam Walsh Act, make it illegal to reproduce child pornography. Both sides cited challenges to the act, which also requires prosecutors to make the evidence "reasonably available" to defense attorneys.

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