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The line between home videos and child porn can be blurry: Part II

Earlier this week, we began a discussion about a criminal case from Minnesota involving a university football coach who was recently arrested and charged with possession of child pornography. However, the details surrounding the charges have raised questions about whether or not a sex crime was actually committed.

The coach had brought in his school-issued cell phone to the IT department to be fixed. On the phone, staff members discovered videos of his three young children laughing and being silly. In two of the videos, the children are nude.

The defendant's wife has vehemently denounced the charges and publicly come out in support of her husband. She says she already knew about the videos and claims that they were only meant to capture the humorous moments of their children's early lives.

Reaction from the community has been mixed, with many legal professionals expressing some skepticism about the charges. One attorney not involved in the case said: "Most of the time -- even 90 percent of the time -- what you see in these cases is so obviously pornographic that there isn't a decision to be made." What's different here, she noted, is that the descriptions of what took place in the videos do not make the content seem blatantly sexual.

In a separate interview, another attorney offered an opinion shared by many who have heard about the case; that the videos may be unusual and perhaps even in bad taste, but that doesn't necessarily make them child pornography. The attorney added: "It seems a little weird. But kids are kids and they do some crazy stuff."

Of course, there are other questions to be considered here as well. First and foremost, why would the defendant so readily hand over his cell phone to a tech specialist if he thought he had something illegal to hide?

This case is important, not only for the disputable nature of the evidence, but also because nearly any parent with young children could unexpectedly find themselves in a similar situation.

Source: StarTribune.com, "Mankato coach's child-porn case tests definition of criminal," Richard Meryhew, Aug. 30, 2012

  • At our criminal defense firm in Waukesha, we frequently defend individuals who have been charged with a sex crime. To learn more, please visit our sex crimes page.

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