Oklahoma State Senator Ralph Shortey is facing three felony charges for his involvement in child prostitution. The charges come after Shortey was caught in a motel room with a 17-year-old boy where it was apparent the two were there to engage in sexual acts. Shortey, who is 35, has a wife and three young children.
Police were tipped off by the teen’s father. Authorities were able to obtain a search warrant during which they discovered the juvenile’s Kindle Fire tablet containing a conversation between him and Shortey pertaining to sex in exchange for money. The felony charges that Shortey will be facing include:
-Engaging in child prostitution
-Engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church.
-Transporting a minor for prostitution/lewdness.
While the age of sexual consent in Oklahoma is 16, state child prostitution laws apply to any person under the age of 18. Both Shortey and the teenage boy admit to being acquaintances for about a year, having met through Craigslist and later communicating on the messenger application Kik, which has been criticized as being unsafe for minors. Within a few hours after the arrest, Shorty was released on a $100,000 bond.
Shortey has been a senator since 2010. He is a staunch Republican and was the state chair of President Donald Trump’s campaign during the primary elections. During his time in the state Senate Shortly pushed bills that targeted the expulsion of illegal immigrants and the expansion of the state’s gun rights. Ironically a few of his bills targeted gay and transgendered people, including a measure passed earlier this year that would allow business owners to discriminate against gay people. His most notable bill, however, was introduced in 2012 and would have banned the use of aborted human fetuses in food. The bill garnered a lot of controversies both in-state and around the country. The bill was never granted a hearing in a Senate Committee.
The arrest has, of course, led to calls for Shortey’s resignation. The Oklahoma Senate imposed sanctions on Wednesday voting 43-0 for a resolution that accuses him of “disorderly behavior.” Among other things, it removes Shortey from membership and leadership of various Senate committees, bars him from occupying his office and reserved parking spot at the Capitol, blocks his expense allowances and authorship of bills, and revokes his right to have an executive assistant. Shortey will, according to Senate officials, still receive his $38,400 annual salary as a senator and will be allowed to vote.
The allegations have also raised red flags pertaining to Shortey’s involvement with the Oklahoma City YMCA’s Youth and Government Program. Shorty has since been removed from his volunteer position of which he served over the last 17 years. He had been active in the program and served as a chaperone on several out-of-state trips. The organization is unaware of any allegations of wrongdoing involving Shortey’s work for the program, but the agency is conducting an internal investigation due to the nature of the criminal case.