The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 31, 2012

UPDATE: (VIDEO) Hoffner testifies that his kids asked him to videotape their show

(Continued)

MANKATO — No abuse

Another witness Fleming called Wednesday was Holly Barkeim, a child protection investigator for Blue Earth County Human Services who has watched the videos. She sent a letter to Hoffner and his wife, Melodee, in September saying her investigation found the Hoffners’ children had not been abused and there was no need for child protective services.

During the hearing, Fleming had Barkeim provide a more in-depth explanation for her decision. Barkeim said if she had determined Hoffner had used his children to create child pornography that would be considered sexual abuse under the state statutes she follows for her job.

She also said her office uses what she described as a 50-50 threshold to decide if children are being abused or mistreated in their home. Barkeim explained that even if there was a 51 percent concern that the children were being abused, the protective services process would have been started.

The videos didn’t reach that threshold, she said.

Fleming told Jass that Barkeim should be the person Hanson turns to for expert advice in this type of case. Someone in her position would usually be called as a witness for prosecutors if a similar case goes to trial.

It is significant that Barkeim didn’t come to the conclusion that the videos were child pornography, Fleming said.

“That is the community standard of obscenity: What Human Services thinks. That’s the significance of that testimony.

“There is nothing in here. These kids are laughing and dancing and having fun.”

Jass, who will watch the video before making a decision, told Fleming to complete a written argument by Nov. 7. Hanson will have until Nov. 14 to respond. Jass said she will issue a ruling as quickly as possible after that and, if necessary, schedule the next hearing at that time.

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