Wednesday, March 6, 2002
Deputy City Attorney Charged With Attempted Sex Acts With Minor
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
A Los Angeles deputy city attorney accused of soliciting sex from a boy he met over the Internet was charged yesterday with two felony counts of attempted sex acts with a minor.
Richard Bruce Coplen, a civil attorney with the City Attorney’s Office for 20 years, was arrested Sunday on suspicion of attempted oral copulation with a minor after being caught in an “Internet predator sting” by the Los Angeles Police Department, LAPD officials said.
The LAPD began its investigation of the 49-year-old Copeland in January after a 17-year-old boy told authorities he received an instant message from Coplen over the Internet promising him $150,000 if he would meet him for sex, Lt. Daniel Mulrenin of the LAPD’s Juvenile Division said. The two had met in a chat room, Mulrenin said.
On Dec. 28 Coplen picked up the victim a park near the victim’s home and took him back to his own residence in Highland Park, where the two engaged in a sex act, authorities said. Coplen returned the victim to the pick-up location that same night.
There was some money exchanged for the act, but Mulrenin said it was less than the $150,000 that had been discussed.
After the victim reported the incident, the LAPD’s Sexually Exploited Child Unit assumed his online identity and arranged for another meeting after Coplen said he wanted to recreate the act, police said.
When Coplen showed up for the meeting, officers arrested him, police said.
In a statement, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo called the charges against Coplen “serious,” but declined to comment further on the case, saying he was prohibited from discussing a pending personnel matter.
“While I can’t comment on this case specifically, such alleged actions are intolerable especially if they involve a minor,” Delgadillo said.
Coplen was placed on paid leave until the City Attorney’s Office is finished with its own internal investigation of the incident, an office spokeswoman said.
The LAPD is currently conducting a forensic examination of Coplen’s two home computers, but Mulrenin said that there is no reason to believe that any of Coplen’s office computers were involved in the Internet conversations.
The forensic examination will examine all emails and Instant Messages sent and received by the computers, Det. Dale Barraclough said.
Coplen was released on his own recognizance late yesterday afternoon over protests from the prosecution, District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said.
The prosecution had asked for $20,000 bail, she said.
Coplen is scheduled to be arraigned on March 12 on one count each of attempted oral copulation of a minor and attempted sexual penetration with a foreign object.
At a news conference to announce the arrest, LAPD Chief Bernard Parks took the opportunity to encourage parents to pay attention to what their children are doing when they are on the Internet.
“If there is one strong message here, parents should and need to be actively involved with the activities of their children, especially when it comes to Internet usage,” Parks said.
He suggested that parents place computers in an open area in the home, that they know the passwords to their children’s computers and that they use filtering software to protect their children from inappropriate material.
The LAPD is asking that any other potential victims of Coplen contact the department’s Juvenile Division at 213-485-2883.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company