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Minnesota State-Mankato coach exonerated of child porn charges, P. 1

Criminal charges hovered over the head of Minnesota State-Mankato football coach Todd Hoffner for 102 days. Prosecutors had filed two counts of child pornography charges against the coach after videos were found on his cellphone. This blog previously discussed the case. The coach and his wife denied that the videos of the coach's young children were pornographic. Prosecutors pursued the criminal charges nonetheless--even after social workers said that no sexual abuse was indicated.

The criminal defense sought to have the charges dismissed and asked for a hearing to present evidence before a judge in Mankato. The coach testified for roughly 45 minutes at the October 31 hearing, explaining to the court that his children had come downstairs after a bath and asked the coach to record them. On November 30, the judge filed a 34-page order dismissing the child pornography charges against the football coach.

The judge reviewed the three videos that prosecutors were relied on to support the criminal charges. The court noted that even prosecutors agreed that one of the videos did not contain pornography-narrowing the evidence to two videos. The judge also reviewed the testimony of the defendant and other evidence submitted in the criminal case.

While the Constitution gives a person charged with a crime the right to have the criminal charges decided by a jury of peers, it is also important to note that mere allegations are not sufficient to prove that a crime ever occurred. Criminal defendants have the ability under Minnesota law to challenge the state's allegations on the law.

Generally, during a pre-trial hearing challenging the state's case, a defendant can ask the court to make a ruling on the potential evidence in a case. Most Minnesotans may understand that pretrial rulings can seek to have evidence thrown out for constitutional violations, or other factors that make the evidence unsound. But, in some cases, the evidence itself may not show that any crime occurred.

In the next post, this blog will continue discussing the recent ruling throwing out the child porn charges against the football coach.

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