Minister gets SUV after dealership employee mistakes him for child pornography suspect

Sunday, October 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) _ A Methodist minister will get a new car for his ministry after a dealership employee mistook him for a child pornography suspect.

The Rev. Jack Copas, whose ministry battles child pornography in Thailand, was approached by the FBI at the Paramus Honda dealership this spring after an employee mistook him for Eric Rosser, a child pornography suspect featured on ``America's Most Wanted.''

FBI agents interrogated Copas for several hours before realizing they had the wrong man.

Leon Lee, the dealership's general manager, said his employee acted responsibly in calling the FBI, but he acknowledged Copas' ``obvious embarrassment, upset, concern and shock,'' the newspaper reported. The dealership said it plans to give Copas a Honda Passport sport-utility vehicle as a goodwill gesture.

Copas, who has been with the Totowa United Methodist Church for 10 years, said he felt violated, but lauded the donation.

``I'm in the business of forgiving and forgetting,'' Copas, 47, told The Sunday Record of Hackensack. ``This is a big vehicle that will come in very handy transporting all the donations we get at our food pantry.''

Copas has traveled to Thailand several times with his ministry, which battles child pornography and child slavery there.

The minister said he had considered filing suit against the dealership, the FBI and the Fox network, which broadcasts ``America's Most Wanted.'' He said such shows could cause innocent people to be arrested.

Rosser was arrested in August in Thailand and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.