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College Football Coach Fired and Charged
with Child Pornography for Something
Completely Innocent on His Phone

For those unfamiliar with the details, Todd Hoffner was the head football coach at Minnesota State University, Mankato. In 2012, Hoffner found himself in the middle of a legal maelstrom when university technicians, repairing his university-issued phone, discovered videos of his naked children. Authorities were promptly notified, leading to Hoffner's arrest and the charges of child pornography. He was suspended by Mankato State University and then terminated for undisclosed reasons. 

Legal Intricacies and Presumption of Innocence

One of the bedrock principles of the American legal system is the presumption of innocence. Every individual, no matter the crime they are accused of, is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Hoffner's case shines a light on the fragility of this concept in the court of public opinion.

The videos in question, as later established in court, were innocent footage of Hoffner's children playing after a bath. The Judge labeled the photos as "playful and silly". Yet, the mere association with child pornography, even without a guilty verdict, was enough to upend Hoffner's career and reputation. From a defense standpoint, it underscores the importance of ensuring that the accused receive a fair trial, free from biases and external pressures.

The Role of Technology

Living in the digital age, we leave electronic footprints everywhere. From photos stored on our phones to emails, our lives are continually documented. Hoffner's case raises pertinent questions about privacy and the interpretation of digital content. How often might innocent content be misconstrued? And, in an era of instant information dissemination, how can one safeguard their reputation?

Vindication and Aftermath

Fortunately, for Hoffner, the legal system ultimately worked. The charges against him were dismissed by a judge who rightly recognized the videos as innocent child's play. Despite this legal vindication, the aftermath of the accusations remained. Though Hoffner was later reinstated as a coach, the impact on his personal and professional life serves as a testament to the profound consequences one faces when accused of a crime, even if innocent.



The Todd Hoffner case is a cautionary tale about how careful you need to be in the digital age. People accessing what is on your computer or phone can misperceive what the content is. And that person can try to wield that information against you. Be careful with allowing others to access your computer and phone even if you've never done anything wrong. If photos of a father's children playing after a bath can be interpreted so outrageously as occurred in the Todd Hoffner case, it should cause everyone to be cautious.

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Peter Lindstrom, Esq.

Founder of Subzero Criminal Defense

I practice exclusively in the state of Minnesota. If you are falsely accused in Minnesota, contact me for a consultation. If you are falsely accused in another state or country, contact a qualified attorney in your jurisdiction. 

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