By Richard Meryhew
The attorney representing a Mankato football coach facing two counts of child pornography has been granted access to home videos submitted by prosecutors as the key evidence in the case, a judge has ruled.
Todd Hoffner, 46, was charged in Blue Earth County District Court last month for three home videos he shot of his three children on his campus-issued cellphone this summer. The prosecution contends that the videos showed the children engaging in a sexual performance.
Jim Fleming, a Mankato attorney representing Hoffner, requested access to a copy of the videos at a court hearing last week, saying he needed them to help prepare a defense.
Fleming had previously been allowed to watch the videos, but only in the presence of a Blue Earth County Sheriff’s deputy. Prosecutor Mike Hanson had denied Fleming’s repeated requests to provide the defense with a copy of the images.
In a ruling this week, District Judge Krista Jass granted Fleming’s request, writing that “the evidence sought by the Defendant is both relevant and material to his guilt or innocence.” Jass also wrote that “public policy considerations against unnecessary dissemination of child pornography are outweighed by Defendant’s need to review the evidence with unrestricted access.”
Fleming said Tuesday that he “fully expected” Jass to rule in his favor. “I’m surprised Mr. Hanson tried to prevent access to it,” he said.
Hanson declined to comment on the ruling.
Fleming also requested access to copies of hard drives from two desktop computers and a celluar phone if relevant.
The request became irrelevant, however, after investigators said last week that a search of computers, videos and other electronic equipment taken from Hoffner’s home and car turned up no potential evidence in the case.
Hoffner, of Eagle Lake, Minn., has been on paid administrative leave from Minnesota State University, Mankato, pending the outcome of a school investigation.
His next court appearance is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 31.
Richard Meryhew • 612-673-4425