Owner of a combination St. Louis pizza restaurant and martial arts studio accused in a child sex case was found guilty on Wednesday of eight charges.
St. Louis post-dispatch reports:
“The 10-day bench trial of Loren “Sensei” Copp on nine felony counts — including production, attempted production and possession of child pornography and the use of interstate facilities to persuade or coerce a minor to engage in sexual activity — ended in April. U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig heard the case, and on Wednesday announced her verdict of guilty on eight of the nine counts.”
The 49-year-old former Pastor was found not guilty on one of several counts of using interstate facilities to persuade or coerce a minor to engage in sexual activity.
The hearing on Wednesday included graphic details about Loren Copp’s sex acts and nude or pornographic images and video of the girls. The girls were younger than 15 at the time, including one girl who was 11 at the time of the abuse.
Copp has been in jail pending the outcome of the case. The former Pastor made no statements in court other than replying “yes” when the judge asked him if he understood the verdict.
Federal prosecutors said he now faces 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced April 5th, 2019. U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen said prosecutors are “very satisfied with this verdict” and that it means “the victims’ voices have been heard.”
Prosecutors said Copp groomed two young girls before sexually abusing them at Copp’s “DoJo Pizza” shop in St. Louis. He also took pictures while he raped them.
At his trial assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Winfield said that after someone raised concerns with state officials back in 2013 about Loren Copp’s behavior with young girls, he left his wife and moved to a combination martial arts studio, pizza shop and sanctuary at 4601 Morganford Road in St. Louis.
Copp’s pizza shop operated as a nonprofit to support free karate classes, its website once said.
A complaint from a third girl led to raids and searches in the fall of 2015 that led police to find child pornography on computers, Winfield said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Winfield also said Loren Copp set up and used fake Facebook and email accounts to pretend to be a school resource
Prosecutors said Copp used a Facebook account posing as a 13-year-old girl named “Chrissy” to obtain explicit images of three girls.
Copp represented himself at the trial and accused investigators of having “tunnel vision” and said anyone could have accessed the computers where child porn was found or the internet connection in the dojo.
Copp also claimed he had alibis for at least some of the times when the computers or the Facebook account were accessed.
“These are very brave victims,” Jensen told reporters outside the Thomas F. Eagleton Courthouse after Wednesday’s verdict. “They always are in these types of cases. They’re tough cases, but they went in there and testified, and the judge believed them and that’s the most important thing … their testimony was extremely important, and we’re grateful to them and for their bravery.”
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