This post about Richard Davenport’s termination of Coach Todd Hoffner highlights the timeline of Mankato State University, Mankato’s investigation that ultimately led to Coach Hoffner’s termination. This post will highlight the OLA’s report of what happened that triggered the investigation:

On August 10, 2012, Coach Hoffner asked a MSU, Mankato information technology staff person to examine his cell phone because it was not working properly. The staff person found a video recording of naked children on the phone and brought it to the attention of MSU, Mankato officials, who turned the cell phone over to the Mankato police. Coach Hoffner was arrested at his home on August 21, 2012. The following day, the Blue Earth County Attorney filed charges against Todd Hoffner alleging that the images of the children were pornographic and criminal.

After reviewing the images, other evidence, and considering the applicable laws, on November 30, 2012, a Blue Earth County District Court Judge dismissed the criminal charges for lack of “probable cause.” In her order, the judge noted that the children in the video were Todd Hoffner’s children, who asked their father to record a “performance” after they emerged from a bath. The judge went on to say
that the context of the video showed that the “children’s performance was not intended to be erotic or pornographic in nature.” She also noted that the children acted silly, playful, and age appropriate.

Despite the fact that charges were dismissed by a Blue Earth County district court judge, President Davenport proceeded with his investigation.

It’s worth highlighting that the judge ruled that “the children acted silly, playful and age appropriate.”

Here’s another situation that might put President Davenport into a delicate situation:

President Davenport also told us that he responded to the allegations against Coach Hoffner with the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) football sex scandal in mind. In that case, a former Penn State assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, was accused of sexually abusing children for more than a decade. In addition, university officials were accused of failing to respond adequately when concerns about the coach were brought to their attention.

The Penn State situation was dramatically different from what happened in Mankato. Here’s one of the report’s footnotes:

In June 2012, former Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and, in October 2012, he was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) imposed severe sanctions against the Penn State football program, including: a $60 million fine to create an endowment to prevent child sexual abuse and help child abuse victims; barring Penn State’s football program from post-season play for four years; and vacating the team’s wins from 1998-2011. In addition, former Penn State officials, President Graham Spanier, Senior VP for Finance and Business Gary Schultz, and Athletic Director Tim Curley were indicted for endangering the welfare of children, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury. They are awaiting trial.

In the Penn State case, senior members of the administration, including Penn State’s president were accused of lying to investigators and for trying to hide Jerry Sandusky’s actions. Further, they “were indicted “for endangering the welfare of children…”

The underlying allegations included this:

Victims also commonly reported that Sandusky would place his hand on their thighs or inside the waistband of their underpants. Two recounted oral sex with Sandusky, sometimes culminating in his ejaculation.

That’s totally different than the situation at Mankato. First, President Davenport didn’t attempt to cover anything up. Second, he wasn’t accused of lying to investigators. Those things alone differentiate this situation from the Penn State scandal.

I understand that administrators nationwide worried about being accused of covering up a pervert’s lengthy history of child sex abuse. That’s appropriate and justified. What isn’t appropriate or justified is conflating everything into another Penn State.

Technorati: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply