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Nude videos of children were innocent, father says

A college football coach who is facing charges of producing child pornography strongly denies the cell phone videos at the center of the case against him are sexual in nature. At a hearing asking the court to dismiss the charges, the defendant told the judge that the videos depicted his children performing a silly but innocent skit.

The videos came to light when the coach brought his cellphone to the campus IT department in August for repairs. An employee saw the videos and contacted school officials, who put the coach on leave. Four days later, he was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography.

There are three videos on which prosecutors based the charges. Two of the videos were shot on the defendant's cellphone the same day in June. They depict his three children, who range in age from 5 to 9, jumping around with towels on. The towels fall off, revealing the children's nude bodies. In one video, the defendant's son touches himself.

At the hearing, the coach said that the children had just come out of a bubble bath and asked him to tape them performing a skit. The defendant picked up his cellphone and recorded their "skit," which consisted of them dancing and "doing silly things, having fun," he said. He said his son wanted to sabotage the skit, which was why he grabbed his genitals. The second video was an attempted reshoot that the son again ruined. In a third video, the defendant wakes up one of his daughters and tells her to go to the bathroom. At one point, the camera focuses on her underwear.

The defendant says he had no idea what police were talking about when they arrived at his house to arrest him. His attorney said that investigators found no child pornography on his client's computer or other equipment, and cited social workers who concluded that the children had not been sexually abused.

The judge ordered prosecutors and the defense to file briefs in regard to the motion to dismiss by Nov. 14.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Mankato coach adamantly denies videos of his kids are porn," Richard Meryhew, Nov. 1, 2012

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