Police are asking for tips from the public after a bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who is also a former Utah police officer was arrested last week during a human trafficking sting in Utah County.
51-year-old David Moss was arrested after he allegedly contacted women online whom he believed to be prostitutes and then claimed he could manage them.
Captain Mike Giles with the St. George Police Department said David Moss was employed there from 1997-2012.
During his 15 years with the department, Moss rose to the rank of Sergeant, then Lieutenant and eventually worked in the investigations unit where he supervised the drug task force and gang unit.
Giles said Moss resigned before he could be fired, after an internal administrative investigation.
“In 2012, we started an internal affairs investigation based on information that surfaced that he had been involved in some sexual activity that had an on-duty component,” Giles said.
The Utah Department of Public Safety’s Peace Officers Standards and Training office, or POST, was notified of what happened and Moss signed a voluntary relinquishment of his certification on Sept. 10, 2013.
The sting operation took place on February 14. Moss was arrested at his home on February 19. The operation was made public February 20. In all, 23 arrests were made as a result of the undercover operation. Two men were charged with felonies, including Moss.
Sergeant Spencer Cannon, a public information officer with Utah County Sheriff’s Office says Moss responded to ads placed by Special Victims Unit detectives and the Lehi Police Department. They arrested Moss after he made an offer to undercover officers.
“Mr. Moss wasn’t as interested in the services of a prostitute, although he did express that he was willing to pay for it, he was more interested in establishing what he characterized as a business relationship which by any other description and by legal description, is exploiting a prostitute, being a pimp in the vernacular,” said Cannon.
Because of Moss’s history of working as a police officer in St. George and because he was a bishop in a local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregation, positions which both allowed him contact with vulnerable individuals, Cannon said investigators are calling on the public for help.
“He told these undercover detectives that he had managed girls before,” said Cannon. “So we want to find out if there were in fact other people that he had done that with, and if so, we want them to contact us.”
“If there are people out there, at any point in time, that look at this story or have information that could aid their investigation,” said Captain Mike Giles with St. George Police Department. “We would encourage them to make that call and contact the investigators.”
A spokesperson for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 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 him of his role and to identify his replacement."
Moss had no criminal history. He was released on bail of $10,260 on Friday [2/22]. He’s charged with exploitation of a prostitute, a felony, soliciting prostitution, sexual battery, and lewdness for a total of five charges.
Richard Michael Martin was also arrested in the sting on nine second degree felony charges for soliciting sex with children and 22 more were later added for sexual exploitation of minors for a total of 31.
His bail is set at $30,000 and he remains in jail. Martin has a previous arrest for similar charges in Kentucky in 2009. Because of the quantity and nature of the material recovered during the investigation, detectives will refer portions of their investigation for possible federal charges.
If members of the public have any information that could help police in their investigations, they can contact the Utah County Sheriff’s Department at: 801-794-3970.