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Dojo Pizza owner charged with child pornography

The owner of a St. Louis pizza shop was charged in federal court with the production of child pornography Thursday.

Credit: KSDK
Photo of Loren Copp from a previous story.

The owner of a local pizza restaurant and karate studio is accused of crimes against young girls.

The charges come months after the FBI raided the business in south St. Louis.

Loren Copp, 47, was taken into custody at the site of his Pizza parlor on the 4600 block of Morganford around 3:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon by at least half a dozen FBI and police officers. His lawyer, J. Justin Meehan, says Copp was lured here by a building inspector who claimed there was something wrong with the building.

Several times last fall, the FBI raided Dojo Pizza in South St. Louis. Court documents said investigators received a tip that Copp was keeping several underage females — whose parents were either in jail or on drugs — in the building, and forcing them to work in the pizzeria without pay. There were also allegations of sexual abuse, all allegations which Meehan says are ridiculous.

“Nobody was forced to do anything. These kids could come and go as they wanted and they did. There was nobody chained to the basement or forced or beaten. I think the evidence will show that,” said Meehan.

Meehan hadn’t spoken to Copp since his arrest, and didn’t know exactly what he was charged with, but maintained his client’s innocence.

Federal court documents reveal media storage drives seized from Copp last fall contained graphic child pornography — including Copp and at least one victim as young as 12.

“This entire investigation was initiated by a mother who had been asked to leave because of a drug problem,” said Meehan.

Dojo Pizza started as nonprofit where children could go to learn karate, eat pizza and stay off the streets, but before that, it was a small K-12 school called Living Faith Christian Academy. Kim Ploch's son attended kindergarten here with Copp as principal.

“He was very touchy-feely with a lot of the girls. He played that father figure for a lot of girls that didn't have dads, parents, who were living on the streets, presenting himself as that man of God. That he was going to take care of them,” said Ploch.

Copp has an initial appearance scheduled at the federal courthouse Friday. If convicted, he could get 30 years in prison.

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