was an LDS bishop (2015-19) and police officer in Utah; arrested in 2019 for soliciting an undercover cop for sex; pleaded guilty in 2019 to a 3rd degree felony charge of exploiting a prostitute and a misdemeanor charge of patronizing a prostitute; sentenced to prison, but both terms were suspended

Case Summary

While serving as a Mormon bishop and a Utah police officer, Dave Moss (David Moss) was busted trying to solicit sex from an undercover cop he thought was a prostitute.

KSL and Deseret News, both owned by the LDS church, did not mention Moss’s status as a bishop.

Moss was forced to resign due to sexual misconduct allegations.

“position of trust as a local church leader and a vice police officer as late as 2012”

Moss was a Mormon bishop of the Mill Pond ward in the Lehi Central stake in Utah from 2015-12-27 until his arrest in February 2019. He had previously served as a ward young men’s president.

Thanks to your donations, FLOODLIT has obtained court documents in Moss’s case.

2019-10-22 – Provo Daily Herald:

“A hidden video camera captured everything — the moment a local church leader walked into the hotel room, the hugs he gave the two women waiting inside, his offer to help them become prostitutes and the sexual advances he used to ensure the women were not undercover investigators.

“What you’ve done doesn’t prove to me that you’re not cops,” the man said after he forced one of the women to inappropriately touch him. With his back to the camera, the man then tried to remove his pants in front of the women.

When the two undercover detectives broke character and locked themselves in the hotel bathroom, the man rushed from the room.

Even though the encounter only lasted five minutes, Judge Roger Griffin decided David Moss, 52, knew exactly what he was doing in the situation.

“It’s not somebody who just runs into a situation without a forethought,” Griffin said. “That is not something that law enforcement should have to subject themselves too.”

Although the Utah Department of Corrections Adult Probation and Parole recommended sending Moss to jail for 180 days, Griffin cut the time in half and ordered Moss to serve 90 days in jail.

The judge also granted credit for time served and good behavior, meaning Moss will serve about 70 days in the Utah County Jail.

Moss, of Pleasant Grove, was serving as a bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in February 2019 when he arranged to meet with two women he believed were prostitutes.

He offered to be their manager for a cut of the profits and promised to “provide protection, help ensure regular, higher-paying customers and teach (them) how to avoid getting caught or arrested,” charges state.

The women were actually investigators working on an undercover human trafficking operation in Lehi with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

What the surveillance video didn’t show were the careful preparations Moss took to ensure he wasn’t going to be caught by an undercover operation, said Utah County deputy attorney Carl Hollan.

Investigators said Moss had arrived at the building nearly an hour before the arranged meeting. He checked all the nearby parked cars for cameras or law enforcement insignia as well as quietly listening outside all the other hotel rooms around the rendezvous point.

He also brought a handgun to the meeting that investigators found on his person after his arrest.

“Mr. Moss was so careful in his confidential activities that it’s almost providential that he was caught,” Hollan said.

Moss previously served as a lieutenant for the St. George Police Department from 1997 to 2012 and supervised the department’s vice squad. He resigned from his position due to sexual misconduct allegations.

Due to his police experience, prosecutors said Moss knew how to avoid detection and could easily find vulnerable women in the community to exploit.

“This man has literally been trained by the DEA on how to run undercover operations,” Hollan said, adding all the codes and signs used by the trafficking operation were the same signals Moss learned and used with his police teams in St. George.

Before meeting with the undercover detectives, Moss stated several times he had “done this sort of thing in the past and he has a system that is ‘cutting edge’ and avoids people getting caught,” police reported.

“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,” Moss told the detectives in text messages.

But Griffin said he was willing to give Moss the benefit of the doubt, stating he believes the statements were given as a “sophisticated sales pitch” rather than an admission of guilt.

“It’s not a business plan, it’s an appalling abuse of women,” he told Moss during the sentencing.

Moss was arrested trying to leave the hotel where he met the women and charged in 4th District Court in American Fork.

In a plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to exploiting a prostitute, a third-degree felony, and sexual solicitation, a class A misdemeanor. The second-degree felony of forcible sexual abuse and class A misdemeanor of patronizing a prostitute were dismissed.

The third-degree felony carried a sentence of zero to five years in prison while the misdemeanor charge required at most a year in jail.

At the sentencing, Moss admitted he had been addicted to pornography for decades and had cheated on his wife multiple times with several women. He added he was receiving therapy and marriage counseling and his wife and some family members had forgiven him.

“You betrayed them,” the judge told Moss at the sentencing. “You never had to accept that leadership position in the community, and yet you did that. Held yourself up to be someone you are not.”

Since Moss has a medical operation scheduled for November, he will not report to the jail until Dec. 15. Until then, he will remain out of custody on GPS monitor that does not count toward the jail sentence.

He will also serve 36 months on probation, register as a sex offender and complete psychosexual evaluation. The judge also ordered him to write apology letters to the two undercover agents who claimed they experienced distress and trauma after the encounter.

He is also prohibited from serving in church positions, community coaching, advising, mentoring or leadership roles in non-profit or clubs involving youth.”

Sources
  1. Man arrested in undercover human trafficking investigation is an LDS bishop in Utah
    view source details | 20 Feb 2019 | KUTV
  2. 475: DESERET NEWS and KSL.COM: PROTECTORS OF THE LDS CHURCH NAME
    view source details | 20 Feb 2019 | Bare Record
  3. My wife and I attended the Lehi Mill Pond Ward today. That's the ward of Bishop David Moss, who was arrested this week in a human trafficking sting. Here is our report.
    view source details | 24 Feb 2019 | Reddit
  4. Former LDS bishop from Lehi formally charged with sexual abuse, exploiting a prostitute
    view source details | 26 Feb 2019 | Provo Daily Herald
  5. Former LDS bishop from Lehi files to withdraw guilty plea to sexually abusing undercover officer
    view source details | 12 Jul 2019 | Provo Daily Herald
  6. Judge eases sentence on former LDS bishop convicted of exploiting a prostitute
    view source details | 22 Oct 2019 | Provo Daily Herald
  7. source 7
    view source details | |
Sources excerpts
  • Man arrested in undercover human trafficking investigation is an LDS bishop in Utah
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: KUTV
    Date published/accessed: 20 Feb 2019
    archive 1 | archive 2
  • back to online sources list
    475: DESERET NEWS and KSL.COM: PROTECTORS OF THE LDS CHURCH NAME
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: Bare Record
    Date published/accessed: 20 Feb 2019
    archive 1 | archive 2
  • back to online sources list
  • back to online sources list
    Former LDS bishop from Lehi formally charged with sexual abuse, exploiting a prostitute
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: Provo Daily Herald
    Date published/accessed: 26 Feb 2019
    archive 1 | archive 2
  • back to online sources list
    Former LDS bishop from Lehi files to withdraw guilty plea to sexually abusing undercover officer
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: Provo Daily Herald
    Date published/accessed: 12 Jul 2019
    archive 1 | archive 2
  • back to online sources list
    Judge eases sentence on former LDS bishop convicted of exploiting a prostitute
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: Provo Daily Herald
    Date published/accessed: 22 Oct 2019
    archive 1 | archive 2
  • back to online sources list
    source 7
    Source type: News article
    Publisher:
    Date published/accessed:
    archive 1 | archive 2

    A probable cause statement, dated 2019-02-19, reads in part:

    "On February 14, 2019, detectives with the Utah County Sheriff's Office and Special Victims Unit conducted a human trafficking
    operation in Lehi, Utah. During this operation, a detective put out messages on a social media app. The detective was then
    contacted by an individual who went by the name of Pilot. Pilot was later identified as David Moss. Moss exchanged messages
    with the undercover detective. They discussed the services such as kissing, touching and pleasure, that Moss was looking for.
    The undercover detective told Moss it was $150 for the hour. Moss agreed and told the UC detective that he would stop by alter
    work.

    Around the same time, another detective who was on the same social media app was contacted by Moss, who again was
    using the screen name of Pilot. Moss asked if she was “escorting" and this detective stated 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. Moss stated he wanted to get together with her to explain it to
    her how he would manage her. He told the detective that there was a difference between a “pimp” and a “manager." The
    detective asked Moss what the benefit of having a manager was. Moss replied, "That's what we‘d discuss, but mainly 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."
    The detective then asked if he has experience in doing this previously. Moss responded that he “ran" a couple girls before. Moss
    exclaimed that that the benefits of having a manager outweighed the cost. After seeing a picture sent by the undercover
    detectives, Moss replied that they both have the right look and asked how much she is charging. This second UC detective gave
    the rates as $60 for an hour, $100 for the full hour and $180 for the both of them. Moss then stated the they really needed to
    get together to talk about it.

    After speaking with the undercover detectives, Moss arrived at the location as agreed in the text messages. He arrived at the
    room and knocked on the door. The undercover(UC) female detective answered the door while the other UC female detective
    stayed in the room. Moss walked in and began talking to them about their business. The conversation was recorded with audio
    and video. Moss pulled out money from his pocket and showed it to the UC detectives. Moss put the money back in his pocket
    and exclaimed, "I am not opposed to paying."

    Moss started to talk to them about avoiding the police. Moss asked the first female UC detective if she knew what a “cop
    check" was. She stated no. Moss told her to stand up. Moss explained, while showing her, that when they hug, she needed to
    grab the male's hand and place it on her genitals. Moss then grabbed the detective's hand and put it on his genitals over his
    pants. Moss then unzipped his pants and pulled out his penis, exposing himself to the female UC detectives. The female UC
    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 UC detective who was victimized stated that Moss forced
    her to put her hand on his penis. She stated that this was not consensual, unwelcome, and certainly was against her will.

    After the UC detectives went in the bathroom, Moss exited the room. He was met by officers from the UCSO Special Victims
    Task Force in the hall. It was discovered that Moss had a handgun in his pocket. When asked, Moss admitted that he was there
    for a business deal with the girls. Moss’ information was gathered and he was allowed to leave at that time. He was advised
    that charges would likely be filed in the future.

    0n 2/ 19/19, I met with David Moss outside of his home in Lehi UT. He agreed to speak with me without having an attorney present: 'Moss admitted to the chat messages but stated that it was not his intent to do anything illegal when he arrived at the
    location agreed upon. Moss also stated that he reread to prostitution statute after the incident and he admitted that there was
    “PC” to arrest him. Moss admitted that he took the female UC detective’s hand and placed it on his penis, over the clothes.
    Moss stated that he was “teaching her." He also admitted to taking his penis out of his pants and exposing himself to the two
    female UC detectives. He admitted to showing the money to the female UC detectives and telling them, “I am not opposed to
    paying for it."
    Moss admitted to writing the chats where he stated that he wanted to “manage” the girls as prostitutes. However, in the
    interview he said this was never his intent he just wanted to talk with them. Moss maintained this excuse even though I told him
    he was recorded on both audio and video explaining to the UC detectives how to avoid being arrested and the elements of the
    solicitation criminal code. This matched what he told the detectives in the chat messages when he told them what he could do
    for them if he was their “manager." Moss was cooperative to a degree. He admitted to making bad choices.

    In the chat messages, Moss stated that he had “run” other girls as prostitutes in the past. Moss was forced to resign from his
    position from the St. George Police Dept due to sexual misconduct allegations. Moss was a Lieutenant over the Vice Squad
    where he would have had access to vulnerable individuals that could be exploited. Moss has also served as a leader of a local
    religious congregation. This also placed Moss in a unique position of trust that allowed him access to vulnerable individuals that
    could be exploited. Moss denied that he had “run" any other girls. Moss was arrested and booked into jail on the following
    charges.

    Patronizing a Prostitute - The text messages between the first UC detective and Moss clearly indicate that it was his intention to
    pay for services when he arrived at the hotel room. The primary reason this did not happen was because Moss committed an act
    of Sexual Battery on the female UC detective, thus jeopardizing their safety and ending this encounter. However, when queried,
    Moss admitted that he was there for a business meeting with the two women. Moss also told the UC detectives after showing
    them the money, “I am not opposed to paying.” This confirms his intent based on the information provided in the text
    messages.

    Exploiting Prostitution- The text messages between the second UC detective and Moss clearly state that Moss intended to strike
    up a business deal with the UC detective and exploit her as a prostitute. He stated he would protect her, make her
    appointments, teach her how to get regular/higher paying customers, and instruct her how to stay out of jail among other things.
    This last comment is especially troubling based on the fact that Moss is a retired law enforcement officer. The text messages
    between Moss and the UC detective leave no doubt as to his intent to exploit her as a prostitute. Moss admitted that he was
    there for a business meeting with the two women. In the conversation with the undercover detectives, Moss actually discussed
    some of the elements of prostitution criminal statutory code with the undercover detective. This confirms his intent based on the
    information provided in the text messages.

    Sexual Battery- Shortly after arriving at the hotel room, under the guise of doing a "cop check", Moss grabbed the female UC
    detective's hand AND forcibly put her hand on his genitals. This action was not consensual, NOT welcomed, and was done by
    force. The female detective was so alarmed by this forcible sex assault that she locked the bathroom door, something that she
    had not done previously in all of her other undercover operations.

    Lewdness X 2 - After forcing the female UC detective to touch his penis over his clothes, Moss unzipped his pants and exposed
    his penis to the two female UC detectives. Moss admitted these actions when interviewed this afternoon."

    --

    from Moss's sentencing document filed with the Utah court system:

    "The Order of the Court is stated below:
    Dated:
    October 23, 2019 01:17:47 PM
    At the direction of:
    /s/ ROGER W GRIFFIN District Court Judge
    by
    4TH DISTRICT CT - AF
    UTAH COUNTY, STATE OF UTAH ______________________________________________________________________________________
    STATE OF UTAH,
    Plaintiff,
    vs.
    DAVID MOSS,
    Defendant.
    ______________________________________________________________________________________
    PRESENT
    Clerk: feil
    Prosecutor: HOLLAN, CARL
    Defendant Present
    Defendant's Attorney(s): RUSSELL, STEVEN C
    DEFENDANT INFORMATION
    Date of birth: March 22, 1967
    Audio
    Tape Number: 1 Tape Count: 9.42/12.27
    CHARGES
    1. FORCIBLE SEXUAL ABUSE - 2nd Degree Felony
    - Disposition: 06/18/2019 Dismissed w/ Prejudi 2. EXPLOITING A PROSTITUTE - 3rd Degree Felony
    Plea: Guilty - Disposition: 06/18/2019 Guilty
    3. PATRONIZING A PROSTITUTE (amended) - Class A Misdemeanor
    Plea: Guilty - Disposition: 10/22/2019 Guilty 4. SEXUAL BATTERY (amended) - Class A Misdemeanor
    - Disposition: 10/22/2019 Dismissed w/ Prejudi
    HEARING
    This matter comes before the court for sentencing. Discussion ensues on briefs files by parties. The Court will move forward with sentencing for the 3rd degree felony and the amended class A misdemeanor charge. Parties to discuss a possible resolution. Recess.
    : MINUTES
    : SENTENCE, JUDGMENT, COMMITMENT
    :
    : Case No: 191100251 FS
    : Judge: ROGER W GRIFFIN
    : Date: October 22, 2019

    Case No: 191100251
    Date: Oct 22, 2019

    10.17 This matter is recalled. The parties have stipulated for the defendant to withdraw his No Contest plea to Sexual Battery, a class A misdemeanor, and plead Guilty to an amended charge of Patronizing a Prostitute, a class A misdemeanor. The parties stipulated motion to allow the Defendant to withdraw his plea to the charge of Sexual Battery is granted. Defendant is advised of rights and penalties, including enhancement to future offenses and acknowledges understanding. Defendant waives right to a preliminary hearing and jury trial. The Defendant enters a Guilty plea to Patronizing a Prostitute 76-10-1313(2), a class A misdemeanor. The Court accepts the plea after a factual basis is given. The Court finds that the defendant has knowingly, voluntarily and intentionally entered the pleas and the Court receives the same. Defendant waives time for sentencing.
    Mr Russell presents issues with the pre-sentence report now that Count 2 is amended. The Court discusses with parties if pre-sentence report needs to be updated. Discussion ensues.
    10.49 Parties presents arguments on errors on the pre-sentence report per filed memo.
    12.27 The Court present its findings and imposes a sentence and deviates upwards from the sentencing guidelines, which only recommends probation.

    The defendant has 30 days to appeal the sentence. The Court advises that if the sentence is appealed and representation is desired the Court will appoint counsel upon qualification.

    SENTENCE PRISON

    Based on the defendant's conviction of EXPLOITING A PROSTITUTE a 3rd Degree Felony, the defendant is sentenced to an indeterminate term of not to exceed five years in the Utah State Prison.

    The prison term is suspended.

    Based on the defendant's conviction of PATRONIZING A PROSTITUTE a Class A Misdemeanor, the defendant is sentenced to an indeterminate term not to exceed one year in the Utah State Prison with a credit for one day.

    The prison term is suspended.

    Case No: 191100251 Date: Oct 22, 2019

    SENTENCE JAIL
    SENTENCE JAIL SERVICE NOTE
    Defendant to serve 53 days on AP&P GPS starting 10/23/2019 to 12/14/2019. Defendant is to report to the Utah County Jail for a 90 day commitment on December 15, 2019. Good time allowed.
    SENTENCE FINE
    Charge # 2
    Charge # 3
    Fine:
    Suspended:
    Surcharge:
    Due:
    Fine:
    Suspended:
    Surcharge:
    Due:
    $43.00 $0.00 $43.00 $43.00
    $43.00 $0.00 $43.00 $43.00
    Total Fine:
    Total Suspended: $0
    Total Surcharge: $86.00 Total Principal Due: $86.00
    Plus Interest
    Defendant is to pay a fine of 86.00 which includes the surcharge. Interest may
    increase the final amount due.
    Fine payments are to be made to Adult Probation and Parole. The fine is to be paid in full by 10/22/2022.
    SENTENCE FINE SUSPENDED NOTE
    Fines are waived. $43 court security fee for each count

    ORDER OF PROBATION

    The defendant is placed on probation for 36 month(s). Probation is to be supervised by Adult Probation and Parole. Defendant to serve 143 day(s) jail.

    Case No: 191100251 Date: Oct 22, 2019

    Defendant is to report to Adult Probation and Parole(AP&P) main office in Provo by 4 pm tomorrow, be placed on GPS, enter into an agreement, pay supervision fees, and comply strictly with the terms of probation.
    Defendant is to obey all laws and have no further violations during probation period, outside of minor traffic violations.
    Defendant is to notify the court, counsel, and Adult Probation & Parole of a current address at all times, and report to the court and/or Adult Probation & Parole when requested or a warrant may issue during probation.
    Defendant to notify Adult Probation and Parole and counsel of a current phone number at all times.
    Defendant to provide employer contact information to Adult Probation and Parole and counsel during probation.
    Defendant to provide truly heartfelt letters of apology to the two undercover cops to be completed within 30 days of release and are to be filed as private with the court. Defendant is to be full-time employed within 4 months of release.
    Defendant to complete a psychosexual and a mental health evaluation within 60 days of release, if already done, provide proof to AP&P.
    Defendant is to successfully complete within 8 months of evaluation any treatment and/or aftercare recommended from the psychosexual evaluation and if any, to be mental health treatment compliant throughout the duration of probation.
    Defendant to comply with Interstate Compact requirements.
    Defendant is to abide by the Group B Sex Offender Registry requirements.
    If not included in the Group B requirements, Defendant is not to have access to the internet and/or social media without prior written approval by AP&P and all treatment providers.
    Defendant is to not have any church callings where the youth is involved.
    Defendant is not to be a mentor/advisor/coach to youth in any capacity.
    Defendant is not to use, abuse or possess alcohol/marijuana/THC or frequent places where alcohol/marijuana/THC is being used or is the chief item of sale.
    Defendant to take all medications (prescription or over the counter) as directed and notify probation agent and treatment provider of them.
    Defendant can only use medical marijuana pursuant to Utah state law.
    Defendant is to abstain from possessing or using any other substance which would impair the mind or body functions except as prescribed by a physician, and remain medication compliant.
    Defendant is to sign a HIPAA form(s) for information to be released to Adult Probation and Parole and/or treatment providers regarding any prescribed medications.
    Defendant is to report to AP&P within 24 hours of release or the next business day.

    Case No: 191100251 Date: Oct 22, 201

    SENTENCE PROBATION SERVICE NOTE
    Defendant is to report to AP&P by 4 pm tomorrow to be placed on GPS until he reports to the Utah County Jail for commitment."

Mormon Sexual Abuse Map

International map of locations where active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints perpetrated or allegedly perpetrated sexual abuse or other sex crimes, or where LDS leaders failed or allegedly failed to help abuse survivors.