The chairman and CEO of natural food chain Sunflower Farmers Market has resigned after he was arrested last week as part of a child prostitution investigation.

Michael Gilliland, founder of Sunflower and Wild Oats Market, was reportedly arrested for soliciting sex online with someone who identified themselves as an under-age girl. He now faces a felony charge of child prostitution.

Sunflower said Gilliland told the company he believes he is not guilty of the charges and expects to be exonerated.

Sunflower’s president and COO, Chris Sherrell, was named acting chief executive by the company’s board of directors.

“Sunflower appreciates the respect that Mr. Gilliland has shown for the company by his action so that his personal affairs will not affect the company,” Sherrell commented.

Sherrell has been with Sunflower since it was founded in 2002. He said that the change in management would not impact operations or the group’s plans for “continuing expansion”.

Bennett Bertoli, a member of the board since 2002, was elected chairman, Sunflower said.

Sunflower operates 32 stores in California, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Texas.