Utah County officers arrested a former vice squad lieutenant as part of a Valentine’s Day prostitution sting

(Photo courtesy of Utah County Sheriff's Office) David Moss

He used to bust others for trying to pick up prostitutes as a lieutenant in St. George’s vice squad. But investigators now say David Moss was looking for prostitutes to “manage” when he was caught in a Valentine’s Day police sting.

Moss, 51, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of exploiting and patronizing a prostitute, lewdness and sexual battery.

Utah County investigators wrote in jail documents that Moss last week responded to two undercover detectives who posted on social media as part of a “human trafficking operation.”

Using the screen name “Pilot,” Moss allegedly offered to meet the two women and manage them, according to a probable cause statement.

“I offer protection,” he allegedly wrote. “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[es] against the norm but those that use it like it.”

The Lehi man told one of the detectives that he had “ran” a couple of women before, according to arrest documents.

He agreed to meet the women in person, the document states. When they met, he began talking about how to avoid the police.

Moss then asked one of the undercover detectives if she knew what a “cop check” was, investigators say, and in the process of showing her, forced her to touch his genitals. He then allegedly exposed himself to the women.

The detectives became concerned, investigators wrote in jail documents, and locked themselves in a bathroom.

Moss then left the room and was confronted by the Utah County Special Victims Task Force in a hallway.

He later told detectives he did not intend to do anything illegal, but allegedly admitted he had the undercover detective touch his genitals because he was “teaching her.”

“Moss admitted to writing the chats where he stated he wanted to ‘manage’ the girls as prostitutes,” an investigator wrote. “However, in the interview he said this was never his intent, he just wanted to talk with them.”

The Utah County investigator noted in the probable cause statement that Moss had previously supervised a vice squad in St. George and was forced to resign from that position because of “sexual misconduct allegations.”

St. George Police Sgt. Michael Giles said Wednesday that Moss worked for the department for 15 years, including a time when he supervised a drug task force, the gang unit and officers who occasionally did prostitution stings.

He said Moss left the department in 2012 after it was alleged he was having a “consensual relationship of a sexual nature” at work — but added it did not involve sex workers, witnesses or victims.

Police licensing officials say Moss voluntarily gave up his police certification in 2013.

Officials with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints confirmed that Moss was a bishop and has been removed from the position after his arrest. The church did not say when he was appointed to that role.

“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," spokesman Eric Hawkins said. "Upon learning of this situation, local leaders took immediate steps to relieve him of his role and to identify his replacement.”

No formal charges have been filed against Moss as of Wednesday afternoon.