Join Riverfront Times Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Friday, January 5, 2018

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

Posted By on Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 6:55 AM

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 or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

April 14, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation