MSU coach's wife: Child porn charges 'ridiculous and baseless' - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

MSU coach's wife: Child porn charges 'ridiculous and baseless'

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MANKATO, Minn. (KMSP) -

The wife of Minnesota State Mankato head football Todd Hoffner, who is charged with child pornography over family videos found on his cell phone, says the charges against her husband are "ridiculous and baseless."

Melodee Hoffner said her children, ages nine, eight and five "love to have fun" and "can be silly," and they like to have photos and videos taken of them having fun together. She said the videos described in the criminal complaint against her husband are "innocent videos of typical kids being silly" and "nothing more."

"My family does what every family does -- we take videos and pictures of our kids in all their craziness," she said.

The charges against Hoffner detail three videos found on his cell phone, including video of unclothed children dancing around and a video of their daughter in her underwear walking to the bathroom.

Melodee Hoffner says that last video is an easy one to explain. She says they have been waking their daughter up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, and she tends to bump into walls but doesn't remember it. They took the video to prove it to her.

"When we would wake her up, she would bump into the wall or go the wrong direction, maybe say silly things -- and she didn't remember that," Melodee Hoffner explained.

She also made a point of telling the press she is a licensed school counselor who is fully aware of the signs and indicators of child abuse, insisting that her children are not abused or exploited.

"They are healthy -- physically, emotionally, mentally," she said.

Hoffner remains on administrative leave, which Melodee Hoffman said came as a surprise to her family. In her written statement, she told the Mankato State University football players that her husband misses them terribly.

"You are an extension of our family and I hope that someone with authority will take a new look at this and see it for what it is -- innocent videos of typical kids being silly," she wrote.

Acting Head Coach Aaron Keen says the team is trying focus strictly on football as they get ready for the season opener against Minot State on Thursday.

"Fortunately, we have a game to prepare for Thursday night," he said. "So, there's something they focus on -- a task at hand -- and it takes their minds off things, if you will."

Defense Attorney Paul Engh has worked on a lot of pornography cases, and he says the case against Hoffner is unique because there are only three videos. Usually, child pornographers hoard multiple images.

"The difference is, with pornography, there is sexualization of the child," he explained. "There's usually a point of view from the image focused on the genitals rather than the face."

Still, Engh urged parents to be cautious when taking nude photos of their children, saying he wouldn't do it.

"Why put yourself in harm's way? After all, a child is just as cute clothed as they are naked," he said.

However, the case does have some parallels to a case in Chaska where Paul and Rose Dube were accused of taking pornographic pictures of their 12-year-old daughter 11 years ago. The Dubes claimed to be nudists, and they told the judge their family photo album contained hundreds of nude photos of the family.

During the trial, the judge dismissed half the charges against the pair, ruling that only three of the photos were exploitive. They were sentenced to 10 years probation and their daughter was placed in foster care.

Later, an appeals court ruled that "Minnesota case law does not provide clear guidance for determining whether a particular photograph of a nude minor depicts prohibited sexual conduct" and that "depictions of nudity, without more, constitute protected expression."

FOX 9 News attempted to contact the Dubes on Monday to find out how the appeal ruling affected their lives and whether they got their daughter back, but they could not be reached. Their probation ended last year, though the two did have to register as sex offenders.

In the end, it comes down to intent -- and Melodee Hoffner made it clear she is standing by her husband and standing up for her kids.

Melodee Hoffner read the following statement Monday morning, taking no questions:

Todd and I love this community. It is a great place to raise our family. Mankato and Minnesota State University Mankato have been wonderful to us in the 4 1/2 years since out arrival.

When Todd was first placed on administrative leave, we had no idea why.

When Todd was arrested on Tuesday, both Todd and I were in complete shock. When the police executed the warrant at out home, a deputy told me that there were videos of our children found on Todd's cell phone. He described what he had found. I thought, "Those are our family videos they are talking about."

Our children, 9, 8 and 5 are close knit, open, engaging, and creative. They love to have fun; can be silly and like to be photographed and videoed. Our children love to dance and play…We have a lot of fun with them. In fact they make us laugh quite a bit. The videos described in the complaint against my husband are just that – nothing more.

For example, one of my daughters has difficulty during the night and we decided to wake her up during the night to go to the bathroom instead of waiting until the morning. When we would wake her up, she would be half asleep and would bump into walls and such and not remember it. When we told her about this, she wanted to see it. She was clothed in this video. That's one of the videos described in the complaint against my husband.

I am a licensed school counselor, and I am fully aware of the signs and indicators of children who have been abused. And I assure you our children have not been exploited or abused – they are healthy physically, mentally an emotionally; and have normal relationships with friends, family, and teachers.

The charges against my husband are ridiculous and baseless. My family does what every family does – we take videos and pictures of our kids in all their craziness. My husband would not ever abuse our children or any other child.

I want to thank the people in the Greater Mankato Community who have expressed support for Todd, me, and our family. Your kind words and actions have meant a great deal to us in this very trying and difficult time. I am confident that when all of the facts are known these videos will be understood as innocent videos of typical kids being silly.

To the MSU football coaches, coaches' wives, fans, parents, and especially players, I know that my husband misses you terribly. You are a part of our family. I hope that someone with authority will take a new look at this and see it for what it is.

Thank you.

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