A former St. George Police Department vice squad lieutenant was arrested Tuesday following a prostitution sting after investigators say he offered to "manage" women.
David Moss, 51, of Lehi, Utah was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of exploiting a prostitute, patronizing a prostitute, two counts of lewdness and sexual battery. Moss is also a local bishop at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Utah County Sheriff's Office conducted a "human trafficking operation" in Lehi on Valentine's Day. After posting a message on an undisclosed social media app, Moss — using the name "Pilot" — contacted what ended up being an undercover detective and arranged to pay $150 for "services such as kissing, touching and pleasure that Moss was looking for," according to a police affidavit.
About the same time, police said Moss contacted a second woman, who was also an undercover detective, using the same app, KUTV News reports.
According to the affidavit, when Moss contacted the second undercover detective he "asked if she was 'escorting.'" The detective replied that she was “learning the ropes."
"Moss then stated he was looking for girls to let him be their manager. He stated he has done this sort of thing in the past and he has a system that is 'cutting edge' and avoids people getting caught," according to the report.
Moss told the undercover detectives that there is a difference between a "pimp" and a "manager," the affidavit states. Moss also said:
"When we work together, I book and you entertain. I offer protection, I train you on how to act so we get repeat/regulars and higher paying. I also teach you how to stay out of jail. It's kinda cutting-edge stuff that go against the norm but those that use it like it."
When Moss met with the two undercover detectives at the designated location, Moss showed them money and said, "I am not opposed to paying," the report states. Undercover officers said they recorded the conversation.
Moss then allegedly asked the women if they knew what a "cop check" is. While explaining it to them, Moss made one of the officers touch his genitals over his clothing, and then exposed himself, according to the police affidavit.
"The female (undercover) detectives immediately became concerned and retreated to the bathroom. One of the decoys stated she locked the door, which is something she had never done in previous undercover operations," the report states.
As Moss left the room, he was met by deputies from the Utah County Sheriff's Special Victims Task Force. Officers said they discovered a handgun in his pocket.
"Moss admitted that he was there for a business deal with the girls," according to the affidavit.
When police interviewed him on Tuesday, he told detectives that he was "teaching" the women, and that "he just wanted to talk with them," the report states. But when detectives pointed out the recorded statements he had previously made, "he admitted to making bad choices."
It was then that Moss was arrested.
Eric Hawkins a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints confirmed that Moss was removed from his bishop position, Hawkins said in a statement:
"The behavior alleged in this incident is completely unacceptable and unbecoming of any member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and especially of someone serving in a position of local leadership. Upon learning of this situation, local leaders took immediate steps to relieve Moss of his role and to identify his replacement."
Moss also worked for the West Valley City Government but he resigned as deputy director of the Community Preservation Department upon his arrest.
Law Enforcement History
Moss was with St. George police from 1997 to 2012, rising to the rank of lieutenant over the department's vice squad, according to investigators, but was forced to resign from the department due to sexual misconduct allegations.
Investigators at Peace Officer Standards and Training received a complaint in 2012 regarding allegations of sex on duty involving Moss. He relinquished his police certification in 2013, which according to administrators is the equivalent of having his certification revoked, meaning Moss can never reapply to be a police officer in Utah.