Maryland Secretary of Human Resources Kalman R. Hettleman said today he will not resign after being charged this week in Baltimore with an illegal sex act.

Hettleman, 45, is scheduled to appear in court on May 5 on charges that he engaged in oral sex with a 32-year-old woman in a downtown Baltimore parking lot, located in a block where beefed-up police patrols have attempted to crack down on prostitution.

The woman, Deborah Foster, told police that Hettleman paid her $25 to perform oral sex on him, but the two were charged only with "performing a perverted sex act," not with prostitution.

"That's the only act that the officers observed," said police spokesman Dennis Hill. The offense is a misdemeanor. Both Hettleman and Foster were released without bond.

Hill said police did not know that Hettleman was a state official until he identified himself after being taken to police headquarters.

Hughes and leading legislators responded to news of Hettleman's arrest by praising his record of public service and expressing confidence in his ability to continue to run his department, which administers welfare, social services and unemployment insurance. Hughes called him "an invaluable member of my cabinet."

Hettleman, a former leader of Baltimore's legal aid bureau and a longtime activist in programs for the poor, was back at work this morning. He assembled his staff for a private session, where he told them of the incident and said he has no plans to leave his job.

In a prepared statement issued yesterday, Hettleman said he does not dispute the charges, but called the matter "an isolated incident," arising from heavy drinking -- which was also unusual, he said, since "I rarely drink, even socially."