Texas police officer received lap dance from 16-year-old minor as part of undercover operation

Some are questioning whether it was necessary to go that far.

On a June night last year, an undercover Houston Police Department officer positively identified a 16 year-old runaway at Fantasy Plaza, a strip club off North Freeway - but first, he paid her $40 to give him a lap dance.

HPD's Vice Division received information about a missing juvenile working at a Houston strip club on June 9, 2017, having used a fake ID to get hired. The next night, three undercover officers arrived at the strip club in search of the teenager, armed with three photos of her provided by her mother.

In the official HPD report of the investigation, one officer saw the girl dancing on a side stage as he entered the club. He secured a private dance from her and it wasn't until she removed her top and simulated sexual intercourse on him that he stated he could confirm, by the mole under her collarbone, that she was the missing teen HPD was seeking, according to a report made by the officer (scroll down to read the document).

RELATED: Texas judge orders strip club shut down for alleged prostitution, employment of minors

In the days following the apprehension of the runaway girl, an HPD officer returned to the strip club, questioned the manager, and later arrested him and two other strip club employees for sexually-oriented business ordinance violations and harmful employment of a minor.

Of the three men arrested at Fantasy Plaza in June, two have had their cases dismissed.

Since 2014, police have made more than 30 arrests at Fantasy Plaza for a variety of crimes and a judge has ordered the club to be shut down.

Fantasy Plaza has since retained the legal services of Albert Van Huff who took issue with the tactics police used at Fantasy Plaza in June to apprehend the runaway girl.

"You send a couple of vice officers in there and they spend a couple of hours drinking and watching the girls, they have to justify why they're there with a couple of cases and that's what they do," Van Huff claimed.

The Houston Police Department declined to comment multiple times on the tactics used during undercover operations.

READ MORE: Texas police officer arrested in massive prostitution sting identified

Michael Shively, a senior associate at Abt Associates, a US-based public policy research firm says that in all his years working in the world of criminal justice, he has never heard of a police officer receiving a lap dance in order to identify a woman. Shively added that it "seems unnecessary simply to make an ID on that person."

"I would guess the face in the photos would make her recognizable in person, so I am not sure why the mole is so critical to observe in order to make an ID," said Shively, who was provided the full police report by Chron.com.

"One would hope the officer could have arranged the private dance, then made a sufficient ID from her face and height, weight, skin tone, etc obtained from the mother and photos. Once alone and if she seemed a likely match, the officer could have simply asked to see her for her identification, and if refused taken her into custody and sorted it out at the station. Or, once alone and if ID still in doubt, could have found a way to see the area of the mole without allowing that level of physical contact and simulated sex," Shively said.

Van Huff filed a federal lawsuit on the club's behalf Feb. 1 claiming the city of Houston unfairly favors the club's competition by allowing entertainers to "perform topless dancing without having to adhere to the 'no touch' and 'three foot' rules required by city law."

The lawsuit claims the city has treated Fantasy Plaza unfairly because it was not part of a 2013 settlement with the city that allowed 16 other clubs to operate outside the provisions of Chapter 28 of the Houston Code of Ordinances, which outlines regulations for sexually oriented businesses, in exchange for a combined $1 million annual donation to a human-trafficking abatement fund.

Fernando Alfonso III is a digital reporter at Chron.com. Follow him on twitter at @fernalfonso.