ST. LOUIS (AP) _ A television news director has resigned because of his station's involvement in an encounter between a priest and a male prostitute.

Gary Whitaker, 40, resigned Monday, saying he hoped his departure would end tension between KMOV-TV and local Roman Catholic leaders.

Church leaders became upset after the station paid a prostitute's expenses and hid cameras and tape recorders in a hotel room where the prostitute and priest were scheduled to meet March 26. The priest paid the prostitute $200.

The station did not broadcast a report about the encounter with the unidentified priest. The station's activities were reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell, administrator of the archdiocese of St. Louis, called Whitaker's departure ''an honorable and professional step.''