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Judge dismisses porn case against Minn. coach

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Judge dismisses porn case against Minn. coach

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) A Minnesota football coach sidelined by accusations of child pornography involving his own children reacted with relief Friday after a judge dismissed the case, saying he was ``thankful to be waking up from this nightmare.''

Todd Hoffner, the head coach at Minnesota State-Mankato, was effectively cleared when a judge agreed with his assertion that innocent family videos had been misinterpreted. He had been escorted off a football practice field and arrested in August after a university employee came across cellphone videos of his children dancing and playing naked.

``My wife and I have anticipated this day for a very long time,'' Hoffner said in a news conference at his attorneys' offices. ``It has finally taken a person with courage and authority to realize what these videos were.''

Hoffner said he wanted to return to work as soon as possible. The university said he will remain on administrative leave until its own investigation is complete. Hoffner has been on leave since the videos were discovered on his university-issued cellphone in August and turned over to police.

Hoffner testified earlier that his three young children asked him to videotape a skit they had concocted after taking a bubble bath. His wife, Melodee, has defended him, as have supporters who held candlelight vigils on his behalf.

A search of his home computer found no evidence of child porn, and social workers found no evidence that the couple's children had been abused.

In her ruling released Friday, Blue Earth County District Judge Krista Jass said she didn't find any evidence that the videos amounted to pornography.

``The videos under consideration here contain nude images of Defendant's minor children dancing and acting playful after a bath. That is all they contain,'' Jass wrote in her 24-page ruling dismissing the charges.

Hoffner's attorney, Jim Fleming, singled out assistant county prosecutor Mike Hanson for bringing charges in the first place, saying ``Hanson essentially argued that this was child pornography because he knows it when he sees it.''

Hanson said in a statement that his office didn't agree with the dismissal but accepted it.

``Our office was trying to enforce a statute enacted to protect children,'' he said. ``No matter what the prosecutor does in a controversial case with a high-profile suspect, they will be criticized. We do not go looking for cases like this, they are brought to us.''

University spokesman Dan Benson said he had no timetable for when the school's investigation would be completed.

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. Both are felonies.

He has been sidelined for what has turned into an outstanding season for the Mavericks. They are 12-0 and host Missouri Western on Saturday in the national Division II quarterfinals.

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 university had overreacted to the videos.

Fleming, the coach's attorney, said Friday that 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,'' Fleming said.

At an earlier hearing on his motion for dismissal, Hoffner testified that he had told his children to go take a bubble bath last June so he could get some work done. Hoffner said the children later came down in towels and asked him to videotape them. He said he never directed the kids, and never watched the video afterward or showed it to anyone.

The videos came to light after Hoffner took his problematic cellphone to work to be checked out.

The coach was escorted off the football practice field on Aug. 17 by university officials after the school turned the videos over to police, and he was arrested four days later.

Hanson, the assistant prosecutor, had argued earlier that the decision on whether or not the videos were pornography should be left to a jury, and disputed the claim that the images were innocent family fun.

Hoffner was entering his 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 just starting to spread Friday night on campus at the university, which with its roughly 15,000 students is among the state's largest. Sam Moyer, a senior from the Rochester area, said the charges were not a frequent topic of discussion among students.

``I know quite a few people who thought this was just him making family memories - not a sexual act,'' Moyer said. ``It's such a big conclusion to jump to, that he was some sexual predator. That ruins someone's life.''

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

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When is the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery? Date, Time, TV Channel, Online Stream, Draft Order

When is the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery? Date, Time, TV Channel, Online Stream, Draft Order

Amid the longest regular season in NBA history, the offseason shenanigans begin (for some). The NBA Draft Lottery! 

Now granted, no players will be selected during the lottery and no team's future is decided. There will be no trades and not even every team will participate. It simply states the draft order based on a flurry of ping pong balls. Still, it is one of the most intriguing dates on the NBA's calendar.

The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery tips off the offseason's festivities on Thursday, August 20, even though a lot of teams will still be starting playoff competition. Teams will then know their fate and can begin preparing for the upcoming NBA Draft. 

Only the 14 teams that did not play in the postseason will partake in the NBA Draft Lottery — the final lottery slot will be determined at the conclusion of the Portland Trailblazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies NBA playoffs play-in tournament which begins Saturday, August 15th at 2:30 p.m.

The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery will be televised live on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET. 

RELATED: 2020 NBA MOCK DRAFT 9.0 — LOTTERY ODDS ARE SET EDITION

When is the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery?

The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery is Thursday, August 20. This event sets up the draft order for the 2020 NBA Draft on October 16. 

This year's draft lottery will be hosted virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What is the NBA Draft Lottery?

The NBA Draft Lottery is a process to determine the draft order for the non-playoff teams in the upcoming NBA Draft. Based on a team's record in the 2019-20 regular season, they receive odds to land certain picks in the draft. 

This year there is a new system factoring in the pick order. The worst three teams in the NBA all will have the same odds (14 percent) to get the top pick in the draft. This is the first year under this structure is used to prevent teams from entirely tanking at the end of the year. The odds descend from there as the teams' records get better in relation to their placement in the standings. 

How to watch or stream the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery:

The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery will be held virtually on Thursday, August 20 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. 

You can also stream the draft on the ESPN or WatchESPN apps. 

What are the Wizards Lottery Odds?

Washington has the ninth-best odds in the lottery, which means they have a chance to select anywhere from 1-4 and 9-13. The most realistic scenario would be the team selecting ninth overall with their odds at 50.7 percent in said slot.

It's worthy to note that if any of the five teams below them jump, there is a chance they could slide below nine. Washington has a 25.9percent chance of picking 10th, 3.0 percent chance of picking 11th and a 0.1-or-less percent chance of picking either 12th or 13th.

NBA Draft Lottery Probabilities:

1. Golden State Warriors (15-50) - 14 percent
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-46) - 14 percent
3. Minnesota Timberwolves (19-45) - 14 percent
4. Atlanta Hawks (20-47) - 12.5 percent
5. Detroit Pistons (20-45) - 10.5 percent
6. New York Knicks (21-45) - 9 percent
7. Chicago Bulls (22-43) - 7.5 percent
8. Charlotte Hornets (23-42) - 6 percent
9. Washington Wizards (25-47) - 4.5 percent
10. Phoenix Suns (34-49) - 3 percent
11. San Antonio Spurs (32-39) - 2 percent
12. New Orleans Pelicans (30-42) - 1.3 percent
13. Sacramento Kings (31-41) - 1.2 percent
14. Memphis Grizzlies (34-39)/Portland Trailblazers (35-39) - 0.5 percent

Stay connected to the Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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Why this year is different than 2018, Ovechkin's big game and the Caps are in trouble

Why this year is different than 2018, Ovechkin's big game and the Caps are in trouble

The Capitals find themselves in a 2-0 series hole after an ugly 5-2 loss in Game 2 against the New York Islanders on Friday.

Check out a recap of the game here.

Observations from the loss

This is different than 2018

You are going to hear a lot of talk about 2018 until Sunday's game. With the Caps down 2-0 in the series, the comparisons are inevitable.

In 2018, Washington lost its first two games of the first round series to the Columbus Blue Jackets and rallied back to win it 4-2.

The problem is that in 2018, the Caps were the better team in both games. They had confidence they could win because they should have won both of those games, plus they got a confidence boost from starting Braden Holtby in Game 3. Philipp Grubauer had started Games 1 and 2. In 2020, they just look bad. Both losses were bad losses and, unless Nicklas Backstrom is ready to go for Sunday, they don't have anyone waiting in the wings that they can plug into the lineup to provide the same kind of spark.

Don't be fooled by the 2018 comparisons. This team is not going anywhere unless it dramatically improves its play from the first two games.

Coming unglued

If you wanted to encapsulate this game in a single moment, it was in the second period when Garnet Hathaway was called for boarding just 21 seconds after Washington gave up a breakaway, go-ahead goal to Brock Nelson in the second period. Hathaway was hauled off to the box by the linesman with his gloves off looking for someone to fight. It was one of five power plays Washington gave up on the night.  Jakub Vrana continued his rough postseason with an early slash and Tom Wilson hit Ryan Pulock before giving him an unnecessary elbow, which sent him to the box. The team also took two too many men penalties. In addition, New York's second goal came off a defensive zone turnover as Lars Eller was attacked by two forecheckers behind the net and no one reacted to give him a target to pass to. The game-winner was scored on a breakaway as Vrana tried to corral the puck at the offensive blue line with his back turned to the pressure. Brock Nelson stole it away to launch himself on the breakaway.

The Islanders deserve credit for the way they have played, but all of these are self-inflicted mistakes by the Caps who look like they have completely lost their composure.

RELATED: CAPITALS WERE THEIR OWN WORST ENEMY IN 'SELF-INFLICTED' 5-2 LOSS

They have to change something

After how badly the team has played in the first two games, you cannot come back with the same lineup for Game 3. Something has to change beyond just Backstrom returning - if he does in fact return. Whether this means changing lines, defensive pairs or putting in the black aces, the Caps cannot take a wait-and-see approach as they already trail 2-0.

Turning point

Alex Ovechkin had just scored his second of the game to tie it at 2. With the Caps in the offensive zone, Vrana grabbed the puck at the blue line and, with his back towards the goal, tried to swing around and pass the puck off. But with his back turned, Vrana did not see Brock Nelson coming. Nelson stole the puck away and was off to the races, scoring the breakaway goal just 15 seconds after Ovechkin tied the game.

That goal proved to be the game-winner. It was horrible puck management from Vrana who did not play again in the second period.

Play of the game

Ovechkin deflected in a shot from Brenden Dillon to tie the game at 2 in the second period, Ovechkin's second goal of the game.

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Stat of the game

Another milestone for Ovechkin who deserved one as he tried to single-handedly carry the team on his back.

Quote of the game

Despite how bad this game looked, Ovechkin very nearly tied it at 3 in the third period with an open net opportunity on a power play. He won't miss many of those, but this time he hit the side of the net. When asked about the miss after the game, he was blunt.


Fan predictions

Score was off, but you were right about Ovechkin and the Caps still losing.

Close. Let's hope you're right about the second part.

Three people sent me this exact same GIF so kudos to you, Ryan, for getting there first. And, unfortunately, you were right....

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