ST. LOUIS - The owner of a south St. Louis pizza restaurant and karate studio was found guilty of child pornography and having sex with minors.
A judge announced the verdict of the eight counts involving four victims in federal court Wednesday morning.
Loren Copp, 49, was tried by the judge in a bench trial.
In announcing her decision in court Wednesday, Judge Audrey Fleissig said Copp posed as women on Facebook to lure the victims, all of whom were younger than 15 years old.
At trial, Copp purported to be a trusted member of the community, a youth pastor, community activist, martial arts instructor and business owner. He used his position to gain the trust of parents and get access to their children, the judge said.
Copp groomed and sexually abused two young girls who had been in his custody since 2009, eventually leading to him having sex with the girls several times a week and producing child porn at the Dojo Pizza business.
The judge said Copp asked the young girls to call him dad or granddad.
Evidence presented at trial also included Facebook chats between Copp--who was pretending to be a 13-year-old girl--and two additional young girls. He asked them to send him sexually explicit photos of themselves and sometimes with each other. If they did not cooperate, she said Copp would threaten them by saying someone would come and get them.
In one instance, Copp guilted the girls into sending him photos by saying if they engaged in sexual acts with each other, he would get $1,000 to rescue a 3-year-old from an abandoned house.
Copp also is accused of performing sexual acts with two of the girls.
FBI agents and police officers arrested Copp, 47, back in April 2016 at his restaurant Dojo Pizza in the 4600 block of Morganford, which is in the Bevo Mill neighborhood.
The FBI raided Dojo Pizza several times in the fall of 2015.
Photos and videos of child pornography were found on Copp's computer, the judge said Wednesday while announcing the guilty verdict.
Copp defended himself during his bench trial. He claimed someone planted the images on his computer.
The judge said that argument wasn't convincing.
Copp will be sentenced April 5, 2019. He's facing 15 years to life in prison.
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.