Court Prohibits Introduction of Anatomical Photos in Child Pornography Trial

by | June 28, 2021

United States v. Copp, 2021 WL 2384819 (8th Cir. 2021)

Sensei, whose legal name is Loren Allen Copp, was convicted of producing and attempting to produce child pornography. Agents seized hundreds of photos and videos of child pornography from Sensei’s residence in Missouri, also known as the Show-Me State. Some of the images show a man’s naked torso, genitals and feet.

The prosecution asked the court to order Copp to allow his naked torso, genitals and feet to be photographed for comparison to the images in the child pornography. Copp objected to photographing his genitals and the court forbade the photographs.

On the fifth day of his trial, Sensei asked to introduce his own, more recent pictures of his penis. He hoped to show that the genitals visible in the photos and videos didn’t match his. The court denied his request. Sensei then asked for an expert witness to testify. He sought the testimony of his former cellmate to testify about the appearance of Sensei’s penis. The court ruled that the penis would be a no-show in the trial.

Sensei was convicted and sentenced to 65 years in prison. The appellate court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Sensei’s request to show photos of his penis because the photos would have provided little probative value. The trial court could have excluded the photos as a sanction for Sensei’s undue delay in disclosing potential evidence.

This blog was featured in our Xiphos newsletter, a monthly legal-focused law enforcement newsletter authored by Ken Wallentine. Subscriptions are free for public safety officers, educators and public attorneys.

KEN WALLENTINE is the Chief of the West Jordan (Utah) Police Department and former Chief of Law Enforcement for the Utah Attorney General. He has served over three decades in public safety, is a legal expert and editor of Xiphos, a monthly national criminal procedure newsletter. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Death and serves as a use of force consultant in state and federal criminal and civil litigation across the nation.

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