Former Dojo pizza owner loses appeal in sex crime case
Former Dojo Pizza owner Loren Copp, convicted of child pornography, lost a call.
Copp had argued that his conviction was unfair because he was not allowed to present photos of his penis during his trial in 2018. The former karate teacher claimed he had a birthmark that did not not match the size sex crime photos found on her computer. Barring a real photo, he said he should have been able to have his former cellmate testify about the birthmark.
U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig denied both claims during the trail. In an opinion released today, a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeal sided with Fleissig. They noted that the photos were several years old at the time of the trial, and they discovered that a new photo would prove nothing.
The judges also found that a new photo – or testimony from his cellmate – would not have done him any good anyway, as the other evidence against the former karate teacher was “overwhelming.”
Until his arrest in 2015, Copp lived with several teenage girls in a converted church in the Bevo neighborhood. A former pastor, he operated the place as a pizzeria, school and community center, where he taught karate and organized events. The girls were placed in Copp’s care with nowhere to go, often because their parents were battling drug addiction or serving time.
His young victims testified in a grueling ten-day trial, undergoing lengthy cross-examinations from Copp, who acted as his own lawyer. Appeals judges noted that prosecutors initially sought to have Copp’s genitals photographed, as well as other parts of his lower body that were visible in the photos seized, but he hesitated and they ultimately agreed. to photograph everything except his penis. Then, in a mid-trial reversal, he insisted new footage was crucial to his defense.
Judge Fleissig berated Copp for waiting until the last minute to make the request and found that the new photos would add nothing of value. She later found him guilty of eight of the nine counts, including producing, attempting to produce and possessing child pornography.
In December 2019, Fleissig sentenced Copp to 65 years in prison. She described her abuse of girls as “one of the most heinous crimes in our society”.
Copp never admitted wrongdoing in this case.