Todd HoffnerA Minnesota State football coach is in some seriously hot water for what he and his wife say are some innocent videos he took of his own children. According to KEYC-TV, Hoffner has been charged with two felony accounts related to child pornography after questionable videos of the couple's children -- ages 5, 8, and 9 -- were found on his phone.
In a statement yesterday, his wife, Melodee Hoffner, said they are shocked by the charges, and had no idea at first why her husband was placed on administrative leave. Then last Tuesday he was arrested. Police say the videos were found when he took his school-issued phone into school officials because it wasn't working. They gave him a new phone and said a technician would get the pictures and videos from the old phone and get them to him, but in the process the technician found the questionable material and contacted authorities.
Melodee, a licensed school counselor, spoke out yesterday:
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 children.
The New York Daily News described the content of the videos, which mostly sound pretty harmless -- the kids in towels with their backs to the cameras, and then they drop them. In another the kids are dancing naked. In a third one of the daughters is filmed walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night, but she is clothed. The only thing that sounds questionable is that in the first video the boy "fondles his penis" and the two girls "bend over with their buttocks facing the camera and pull their buttocks apart, exposing their anuses toward the camera." Even that could be explained in the right context though I suppose -- silliness getting out of control, perhaps.
Maybe there's more than we know, and if it is child porn, I hope he's swiftly and harshly punished. But I don't know ... I am inclined to believe them when they say there's nothing untoward about them. This seems like it could be a case of something very innocent being blown way out of proportion.
My kids do all sorts of crazy things too, and I'm always grabbing my camera or taking a quick video. Often someone is in a various state of undress, and I don't think too much about it, though I am extra conscientious when it comes to posting anything like that on Facebook or elsewhere publicly. But on my own phone? Just to show my husband or something, I wouldn't be too concerned if I captured my 3-year-old doing a naked dance, or my 9-year-old's pants falling off his bare bottom. Or at least I wouldn't have been. This makes me totally rethink that.
Without seeing the videos, it's hard to form too much of an opinion as to their innocence. However, based on the way the videos were found and the wife's statement, I want to believe this is a case of a well-meaning quest to thwart child pornography gone horribly wrong at the expense of a family.
Does this make you rethink the kinds of pictures and videos you take of your children?
Image via KEYC-TV