Former Mankato coach Hoffner talks of toll of abuse allegations

  • Updated: May 26, 2013 - 12:24 AM
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Minnesota State head football coach Todd Hoffner was cleared of child pornography charges relating to videos he made of his children. Hoffner, along with wife Melodee and lawyers held a press conference in Mankato to discuss the dropping of all charges.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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Embattled former Mankato football coach Todd Hoffner and his wife are talking publicly about how the child pornography charges that were later dropped disrupted their ­family and careers.

Although cleared of the felony charges when a judge ruled the videos found on his cellphone showed only innocent play by his children, Hoffner was reassigned to a job as assistant athletic director at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and later fired, a ­dismissal he is challenging.

Melodee Hoffner, a school counselor, said Saturday that her husband has filed for unemployment benefits and she has returned to school for a degree that would let her work as a school principal.

“We have to feed our family,” she said.

Todd Hoffner declined to talk Saturday, citing a pending arbitration hearing in his union grievance case, but in a TV interview that airs on ESPN Sunday, he said he was shocked by the filing of ­criminal charges last year.

“I just didn’t see the magnitude of arresting somebody for that. I just couldn’t see it.” Hoffner told ESPN, during a five-hour interview in their home last month. The interview was conducted before he was fired.

Melodee Hoffner said Saturday that the couple were doing their first interviews because they wanted to share the “nightmare” they’ve gone through and prevent it from happening to other families.

“When you arrest somebody and you have not done any investigation or very little, and you’re ignoring the ­evidence before you, I think we need to really look at that issue and the abuse of power that can occur,” she said while visiting family in Wisconsin. “The lack of accountability by our police and our district county attorney … their job is to protect the public, not destroy families.”

Todd Hoffner, 46, had been the head football coach at the Mankato school since 2008. He was arrested after staff found cellphone videos he took of his children, ages 5 to 9 at the time, dancing and performing skits after a bath in the family’s tub.

Melodee Hoffner said the handling of her husband’s case may have been affected by the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. Talking now, she said, is a chance to “help people think about things differently.”

The interview will air at 8 a.m. and also be in the May 31 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

KELLY SMITH

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