Dojo Pizza's Loren Copp Won't Cop Plea, Hires Top Attorney Rosenblum

Loren Copp has rejected a second plea deal in his child porn case. - Steve Truesdell
Steve Truesdell
Loren Copp has rejected a second plea deal in his child porn case.

Loren Copp, the former owner of Dojo Pizza, has rejected a plea deal and hired high-powered St. Louis attorney Scott Rosenblum to defend him against child porn accusations.

Police and FBI agents arrested Copp in April 2016 outside the converted south city church where he taught karate, ran a restaurant and lived with a handful of underage girls. He has been locked up ever since as he awaits trial.

The former pastor was the subject of a Riverfront Times cover story in December 2015.

In an email from jail on New Year's Day, Copp tells the RFT that prosecutors offered to drop all charges and recommend a twenty-year prison sentence if he'd admit to receiving illicit photographs.

"I think through our discussions in the past you know where I stand on all of this," he writes.

Court records confirm that Copp did reject a plea deal, which is at least the second one offered by prosecutors. Part of the record is sealed, and the portion that is publicly available doesn't reveal the terms of the offer. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney declined to comment, citing the ongoing case.

Copp has repeatedly insisted that he did nothing more than provide a place to stay for girls whose parents couldn't care for them. Two of the teens ultimately removed from the church had been with "Sensei" for so long that he refers to them as his daughters.

Copp was originally targeted in a labor trafficking investigation — a confidential informant claimed he was forcing vulnerable teens to work in the pizzeria in exchange for a place to stay — but federal agents claim they subsequently uncovered hardcore photos and videos on computers seized from the Bevo Mill church. Copp is now facing eight federal charges, including production of child pornography and use of interstate facilities to transmit information about a minor with intent to entice/solicit/encourage to engage in sex activity. The feds claim at least one of the photos shows Copp sexually abusing an underage girl.

Copp previously turned down a twenty-year plea deal in June.

The judge in the case has rejected Copp's attempts to get evidence and statements he made to police thrown out and to force prosecutors to reveal the identity of a confidential informant. U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig did agree to allow him to drop his attorneys from the federal Public Defenders Office.

He tells the RFT that friends and family have put up the money to hire Rosenblum, one of the city's top defense attorneys. Rosenblum officially joined the case on Wednesday, court records show.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected] or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.

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