Two-time Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses said Tuesday that he will be cleared of charges that he solicited a prostitute and possessed a small amount of marijuana.
Moses, making a brief statement at a Los Angeles press conference also attended by his West German wife, Myrella, claimed he had done nothing wrong.
"I'm truly mortified by the events of the last few days and I'm fully confident that a full investigation by the responsible authorities will see the allegations made against me are mistaken," he said. "You can be sure I will fight these charges of any misconduct, and I know that I have done nothing wrong."
Moses, 29, did not expound on the allegations or his attorney's claim that police had entrapped him. Later, Moses' attorneys said they did not want to try their client's case through the media.
"I worked very hard all my life to build a very positive image and reputation," Moses said. "I'm grateful that my friends and admirers are behind me."
Moses was one of 82 persons arrested during a Sunset Boulevard vice-squad sweep last weekend. After an encounter at 3:15 a.m. with a woman undercover police officer posing as a prostitute at Sunset Boulevard and Genesee Avenue, Moses was arrested. He later was released on his own recognizance.
Moses will be arraigned Jan. 29. His attorney, Harold Lipton of West Los Angeles, said Moses will plead not guilty to both charges of soliciting and possession of marijuana.
The misdemeanor count of soliciting an act of prostitution carries a maximum six-month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine.
Moses, who lives in Laguna Hills, had been staying in Los Angeles since last Thursday to attend U.S. Olympic Committee meetings at the Airport Marriott. Moses was arrested three hours after he had been at a Playa del Rey disco with members of the USOC's Athletes Advisory Council. Most of the athletes left the disco about midnight to return to the Marriott, steeplechaser Henry Marsh said.
According to Gordon Baskin, a Malibu businessman and contract negotiator, Moses said he was returning to the Marriott early Sunday morning from a Hollywood disco, where he spent almost two hours by himself.
Baskin said Moses noticed a woman waving at him near the corner of Genesee and Sunset. Baskin said when Moses reached a stop sign, the woman walked across the street and came up to the window on the passenger side of the car. Baskin said Moses rolled down the window and the woman said something to the effect of, "What are you looking for?"
"Edwin said he told her: 'I'm out to have some fun,' " Baskin said.
"She said: 'Do you have any money?'
"Edwin said: 'Yeah, I have $100.' "
Baskin said the woman then told Moses to meet her around the corner and motioned him to follow her.
"During the whole time, Edwin said he had been jesting with the woman," Baskin said. "When she walked away from his car, he rolled up the window and turned right onto Sunset, which was the opposite direction from the spot where she told him to meet her.
Baskin said Moses drove 1 1/2 blocks west on Sunset before he was pulled over and arrested by two police officers.
Lipton said Moses was a victim of entrapment and had no intention of engaging in a sexual act with a prostitute.
Lipton also said the small amount of marijuana found in Moses' automobile did not belong to the athlete. He said Moses was not aware that it had been in his glove compartment.
The attorney also charged that the arresting officers, who were involved in a task force to deter prostitution in the Hollywood area, targeted Moses' car, a 1985 Mercedes, because of its OLYMPYN license plates.
A police representative said: "There are certain criteria that have to be met before someone can be charged with soliciting an act of prostitution. He (Moses) was arrested. So, it was obvious the officer felt he (Moses) had met the criteria."
Lipton, however, said the law had not been broken if there was no intent to follow through with the act. He also said Moses' contention that the woman mentioned money first constituted a case on entrapment.
With a winning streak of 109 races, Moses--the world record-holder--is considered the greatest intermediate hurdler in the history of track and field. He has been a member of three U.S. Olympic teams, winning gold medals in 1976 and 1984. He did not attend the 1980 Games at Moscow because of the U.S. boycott.
He won the 1983 Sullivan Award as the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States and was honored as Sports Illustrated's co-sportsman of the year for 1984 with gymnast Mary Lou Retton. He will be presented with ABC's Wide World of Sports' athlete-of-the-year award for 1984 during Sunday's broadcast of the show. ABC spokesman Irv Brodsky said the presentation was going to be postponed because of the arrest, but Moses wanted it to go on, as planned.
In December, Moses became the first athlete selected as a delegate to the International Athletic Federation Congress. The IAAF is the governing body of track and field. He is one of seven athletes to serve as an adviser to the International Olympic Committee. Last year, the U.S. Olympic Committee selected Moses to recite the athletes' oath during the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Games.
Former Olympic swimming star John Naber, a friend of Moses, appeared at the Tuesday press conference to offer support for the runner.
"I still want to believe Edwin is perfect," Naber said. "I think this country is in need of heroes. I'll believe what Edwin says about this."