On Wednesday, December 26th, 2018 U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig read her verdict concerning nine charges that former pastor, karate teacher, and pizzeria owner Loren Copp faced; guilty on eight of nine charges. Earlier today he was sentenced.
Copp had evidently been offered a plea deal that would send him to prison for 15 years, but throughout the investigation and 10 day bench trial last year where Copp represented himself, he maintained his innocence.
He was convicted on three counts each of possession/ production of child pornography and attempted production of child pornography. Both of those charges carry a 15 year minimum sentence. Copp was also convicted on two counts of criminal enticement of a minor which can carry a life sentence. The charge that was dropped against him was use of an interstate communications facility to persuade or coerce a minor to engage in sexual activity.
Today Copp, 50, appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Fleissig and was sentenced to 65 years in prison and to pay $294,000 in restitution to his victims for therapy and other expenses.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in St. Louis, Copp groomed two girls that had been in his custody since 2009 as their parents weer either incarcerated or homeless. He abused them and recorded the abuse on his cell phone. At the time of the abuse, one girl was under 15 and the other was under 11.
A former youth pastor, Copp raises suspicions in 2013 with his behavior around young girls, but an official investigation was not launched until 2015 after a third girl came forward to authorities resulting in a raid on the dojo pizzeria he was calling home and his arrest.
“These are very brave victims,” U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen told reporters outside the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse after last year'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.”