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Was college football coach falsely accused of child pornography?

Although this particular case did not occur in Florida, it certainly could have. The case involves a college football coach who was arrested on two counts of child pornography late last month after home videos of his kids surfaced that officials deemed pornographic in nature. After obtaining a search warrant and searching the man's house, vehicle and electronics police were unable to locate any further evidence of child pornography. The man's wife said the charges were "ridiculous and baseless" and that the videos simply showed the couple's kids acting silly.

The 46-year-old coach is now on paid administrative leave from his job while the case is being investigated. The man's criminal defense attorney said they did not expect authorities would find any further evidence of the man either having child pornography in his possession or having disseminated any such content. He went on to say this is simply a case of law enforcement acting overzealously when it comes to potential sex crimes against children. The evidence just did not materialize for them this time.

The defense in this case is looking to get the charges dropped however, if the case should go to trial it will all come down to how a jury views the three videos in question and what it feels the father's intentions were when taking the videos. According to a former county attorney who has prosecuted numerous child sex cases, the jury will be asked whether the videos of the kids taken by the father are simply innocent, private family moments, or are they indeed sexual in nature and evidence of a crime.

The case clearly demonstrates the damage false accusations of criminal activity, especially sex crimes involving children can have on a person's career and personal life. The college coach is awaiting his next court date, but in the mean time three of his past employers have been asked to review the man's computer and cellphone records during his employment with them. A police captain said he did not expect any further investigative work would be required in the case, but did not rule it out either.

To be sure, child pornography is a serious crime involving harsh penalties, including incarceration and mandatory registration on the sex offender registry. Law enforcement has a sense of urgency when crimes against children are involved especially in light of the recent sex scandal at Penn State University. However there are also examples where authorities may overreact which can have devastating consequences for those falsely accused.

Source: StarTribune, "Search comes up empty in porn case vs. Mankato coach," Richard Meryhew, Sept. 15, 2012

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