The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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November 14, 2012

Former head of Wetterling center believes Hoffner is innocent

MANKATO — A controversial case that has Minnesota State University football coach Todd Hoffner facing felony child pornography charges for creating brief videos of his own children has taken another unusual turn in the form of a letter from a well-known child advocate.

Many people have voiced an opinion that Hoffner has been wrongly accused, but Nancy Sabin’s letter to District Court Judge Krista Jass is now part of Hoffner’s case file. The former executive director of the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center told Jass she believes, based on what has been made public about the case, that Hoffner is innocent.

Jass included a copy of the letter in correspondence she sent to Hoffner’s attorney, Jim Fleming, and the prosecutor who filed the charges, Assistant Blue Earth County Attorney Mike Hanson.

 In the letter, Sabin told Jass she has been working to prevent the sex abuse of children since 2001.

“Yet after watching this case unfold it became clear to me that the evidence pointed more toward a naive father who violated workplace policies than someone who manufactured child porn,” Sabin’s letter said. “This is the first time I’ve stepped forward to support someone accused of heinous crimes against children ... So I did not send this letter without a lot of thought. I send it because I fully believe that Todd is innocent.”

Among other advocacy roles, Sabin was executive director of the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center from 2001 to 2009 and served on the team that launched the state’s AMBER Alert system. The resource center was started by the parents of Jacob Wetterling, an 11-year-old boy who was abducted while with friends in St. Joseph in 1989.

Fleming filed a motion to dismiss the charges against Hoffner last month. During an Oct. 31 hearing, Hoffner took the unusual step of testifying on his own behalf. He told Jass he was working at home when his children told him they wanted him to record their “show” after they took a bath. Hoffner said he didn’t know his children planned to drop towels they were wearing.

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