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  • Writer's picturePeter Lindstrom, Esq.

Pictures of a Football Coach’s Children on His Phone Lead to False Charges of Child Pornography

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

 The name Todd Hoffner was synonymous with Minnesota State University football in Mankato for many years. He was a very successful and well respected collegiate footbal coach. However, in 2012, Hoffner's life took a tumultuous turn, plunging him into the depths of a legal maelstrom that would forever change his destiny. This is the story of Todd Hoffner's ordeal, one that underscores the importance of the presumption of innocence, the role of technology, and the profound consequences of being falsely accused.


Innocence Presumed, Yet Shattered


Central to the American legal system is the foundational principle of the presumption of innocence. Regardless of the accusations, every individual is entitled to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Todd Hoffner's case would cast a glaring spotlight on the fragility of this principle in the court of public opinion.


The catalyst for Hoffner's nightmare was the discovery of videos on his university-issued phone. Technicians, tasked with repairing the device, stumbled upon footage of his naked children at play. Swiftly, authorities were alerted, leading to Hoffner's arrest and the chilling charges of child pornography. The repercussions were swift; he was suspended by Mankato State University, and later terminated for undisclosed reasons.


Intricacies of the Legal System


As the legal drama unfolded, it became clear that the videos in question were, in fact, innocent recordings of Hoffner's children engaged in playful activities after a bath. The presiding judge labeled the footage as "playful and silly." Yet, the mere association with the grim specter of child pornography, even in the absence of a guilty verdict, was enough to upend Hoffner's career and tarnish his reputation.


This case highlights the critical importance of ensuring that the accused receive a fair trial, free from biases and external pressures. It serves as a stark reminder of how easily reputations can be shattered in the digital age.


The Digital Age Dilemma


Living in the digital age, our lives are intricately interwoven with technology. From photos stored on our smartphones to the emails we send, we leave electronic footprints at every turn. Todd Hoffner's case raises poignant questions about privacy and the interpretation of digital content. How often might innocent material be misconstrued, and in an era of instant information dissemination, how can one safeguard their reputation?


Vindication and Lingering Effects


Fortunately, the legal system eventually worked in Todd Hoffner's favor. The charges against him were dismissed by a judge who recognized the innocence of the videos in question. However, the aftermath of the accusations remained a haunting specter. While Hoffner was later reinstated as a coach, the lasting impact on his personal and professional life serves as a testament to the profound consequences that individuals face when wrongly accused of a crime.




The Todd Hoffner case serves as a cautionary tale in the digital age, reminding us of the paramount importance of caution when it comes to our digital footprints. It underscores the notion that others accessing our computers or phones can misinterpret the content they find, potentially wielding that information against us. In a world where even innocent photos of a father's children at play can be misconstrued as something sinister, it behooves us all to exercise prudence and safeguard our digital lives.

When charged with a crime as heinous as child pornography it’s important to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney. The Todd Hoffner case shows how easy it is for people to misconstrue innocent conduct. Just because Todd Hoffner was successful doesn’t mean you will be too. False accusations lead to actual conviction a disturbing amount of the time. There have been over 3,000 wrongful convictions since 1989. You don’t want to become a statistic.

Contact Subzero Criminal Defense and I may be able to start working on your case as soon as today. 651-248-5142. Subzero Criminal Defense provides a defense with intelligence, creativity, and grit.


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