The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 5, 2014

Hoffner wants case records erased

MANKATO — Around the same time former Minnesota State University football coach Todd Hoffner announced he was accepting a job at another university, he also filed legal documents to erase any record of the unfounded criminal charges that drew national attention to him and MSU.

Shortly after Hoffner accepted the job at Minot State University in North Dakota, his Mankato attorney, Jim Fleming, started the process of requesting Hoffner's criminal case be removed from the state's court records system. Hoffner was charged in 2012 with creating child pornography for making short video recordings of his young children dancing naked. It happened in the wake of criminal incidents involving a coach at Penn State, which resulted in the MSU case drawing national attention from sports media.

The charges against Hoffner were dismissed by Blue Earth County District Court Judge Krista Jass about three months after they were filed. After watching the videos herself, Jass found they didn't contain anything that could legally be considered pornography. She said the children were having innocent fun while performing a harmless skit for their father.

"I was wrongly accused," Hoffner said in the petition to expunge records of the case. "The case was dismissed on Nov. 30, 2012, for lack of probable cause by Judge Krista Jass."

The petition also says Hoffner made requests to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Mankato Department of Public Safety and the Blue Earth County Sheriff's Department to have his arrest records destroyed after the charges were dismissed. The BCA responded with a letter saying its records had been destroyed. The local agencies did not respond, the petition said.

Police and Sheriff's Department records that were never used during hearings or for filings in the case have already been sealed by the judge.

The videos of the children were found on Hoffner's work cellphone when he brought it in for repairs to MSU in August 2012. He was escorted away from a practice session and told he could not return. He was placed on paid leave and the phone was turned over to law enforcement. He was arrested at his residence in Eagle Lake about a week later. No evidence was found on computers confiscated from his house.

After the charges were dismissed, Hoffner was given an administrative job at the university. He was fired in May. University officials have not provided any information about why he was fired.

A grievance Hoffner filed against the university went to arbitration. The Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services initially thought the results of that process would be released in February. That release date has been extended for at least six weeks.

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