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Hoffner, 46, of Eagle Lake, had been charged with one count of using minors in a sexual performance or pornographic work and one count of possessing child pornography.

The circumstances of the case, close on the heels of the Penn State scandal involving sexually abused children and authority figures who didn’t intervene, invited questions about whether the school overreacted.

Fleming said it was for “others to decide” whether the Penn State case played a part in how Hoffner’s case was handled.

“In light of all that’s happened, it would be hard for me to say it wasn’t at least a factor,” the defense attorney said.

This was Hoffner’s fifth year as head football coach at the school, where he had a 34-13 record. He led the Mavericks to the playoffs in 2008 and 2009, and a share of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference title in 2011. He was named NSIC coach of the year in 2009.

Word of the case’s dismissal was starting to spread Friday night on campus the school of about 15,000 students that’s among the state’s largest universities. Sam Moyer, a senior from the Rochester area, said the charges were not a frequent topic of discussion among students.

Still, he said, “I know quite a few people who thought this was just him making family memories _ not a sexual act … It’s such a big conclusion to jump to, that he was some sexual predator. That ruins someone’s life.”


Associated Press writer Amy Forliti contributed to this report from Minneapolis.