The Rev. Michael Rokos has resigned as president of the Cult Awareness Network to fight a religious group's charge that he was convicted for soliciting an undercover Baltimore city policeman in 1982.
Friends of Freedom, which calls itself a "religious liberty advocacy group," announced the charge against Rokos at a news conference yesterday at the Lord Baltimore Radisson Hotel downtown.
Rokos, 44, an Episcopal priest who lives in Baltimore, served as CAN president from late 1989 until his resignation earlier this month.
Rokos yesterday denied that he was arrested or convicted for soliciting an undercover city policeman.
"The material they're spreading about me is an absolute lie. Period, end of sentence," Rokos said.
He added that he would not comment further on the advice of his attorney, because he is considering legal action against the religious group.
Rokos said he resigned as CAN president after he learned that Friends of Freedom was raising the charge against him because wanted to keep CAN separate from the controversy and from any lawsuit he may file.
The Cult Awareness Network is a national organization that attempts to educate the public about alleged mind-control practices used by religious groups. CAN has about 500 members nationwide.
George Robertson, executive vice-president of Friends of Freedom, yesterday produced what he claimed were Baltimore police department records indicating that a "Michael George Rokas" was arrested in July 1982 for solicitation. The records included what looked like police mug shots of a man resembling Rokos.
Robertson said he is a minister with Greater Grace World Outreach, the Baltimore-based fundamentalist Christian church that is often at odds with CAN.
He explained the "Rokas" spelling by saying the priest might have had a "fake name on his driver's license, I don't know," at the time of the alleged arrest.
Southeastern District Court records state that Michael George Rokas was arrested for solicitation and resisting arrest in July 1982. He was found not guilty of the resisting arrest charge and was given probation before judgment for the solicitation charge, according to court clerk Veronica Crowder.
Susan Kraskie, a public affairs officer with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, explained that probation before judgment is not the same as a conviction.
"Someone who took probation before judgment could say he or she was not convicted and still be telling the truth," Kraskie said.