Citing First Amendment rights, a Blue Earth County judge has ruled the investigative reports involving allegations of child pornography against a former Minnesota State University head football coach will remain sealed.
Charges that were filed against Todd Hoffner, 46, were dismissed late in 2012 after District Court Judge Krista Jass ruled not enough evidence existed to support them. She said videos Hoffner had on his MSU cellphone showing his young children dancing without clothing were protected by the First Amendment.
The videos were found by MSU staff when Hoffner turned the phone in for repairs. Hoffner was removed from his position as head football coach in August. After the charges were dismissed, he was reassigned to an administrative position in the MSU Athletic Department.
The university has not said whether Hoffner has or will face any disciplinary action.
After the case was closed, Hoffner filed a motion to have the investigative file sealed. Fox 9 News in the Twin Cities had made a request to the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department to see it.
Hoffner cited a law that says investigative data from a case related to the abuse of a child by a parent is private. Jass has kept the case sealed pending her ruling.
The Free Press also requested the file and made a motion to make an argument against sealing it. It argued that the entire case should not be sealed because it’s possible it includes information about why and how the case was pursued. That information could show if the case had been mishandled by prosecutors. Hoffner made those accusations after the case was dismissed.
Jass ruled Friday the case should remain sealed because everything in the file is related to the child abuse investigation. If the child abuse investigation hadn’t started, there wouldn’t be any information in the file, she said.