Oklahoma Republican Senator Ralph Shortey, 35, who is married and the father of two, was slapped with child prostitution charges on Thursday stemming from an incident on March 9, when he was allegedly caught in a Super 8 Motel room with a teen boy for the purposes of having sexual relations with him. A local prosecutor said that Shortey, who has been suspended from the senate because of the allegations against him, was found by the police with a teenage boy in Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City.
The Washington Post reported that the police in Moore, Oklahoma are conducting an ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident involving Shortey and a teenage boy on Match 9. On Wednesday, the police released a report that was “heavily redacted” regarding the March 9 incident. In the report, the names of everyone in the Super 8 Motel motel room are redacted, as well as the teen boy’s age.
According to the Daily Mail, police said the motel room where they found Senator Shortey with the teen boy reeked of “raw marijuana.” Police said Storey offered money for sexual favors. At around 1 a.m. on March 9, the police were called to the Super 8 Motel room in Moore, responding to an anonymous tip in request to a welfare check.
Senator Shortey and the teen boy had been texting each other for almost a year, and that the teen had recorded the messages on his Kindle tablet. The police confiscated the tablet as evidence.
The teen is 16 or 17 years old. The teen boy admitted to the police, according to a court affidavit, that the conversations he recorded were in relation to sexual activities in exchange for money.
Oklahoma’s age of consent is 16. The boy’s father called the police after the teen’s girlfriend contacted him. She then told the police her boyfriend had told her he was “going to get paid tonight.” She said she was worried that “he might be involved with illegal drugs.
The teen boy’s parent said he has a history of going on Craigslist where he would solicit himself for sex, and he is known to have a history of drug abuse. When the police arrived at the motel room, Shortey initially told them he was alone.
However, when police officers said they would get a master key from management to enter the room, the teen boy came out. Inside the room, which smelled of marijuana, the police located a backpack containing lotion and an open pack of condoms.
According to NBC affiliate, KFOR, Oklahoma Republican Senator Shortey has contact with teenagers on a regular basis as a senior staffer at Boys State and through the YMCA Youth in government program. When the police asked Shortey what he was doing at the motel room, he replied he was there to hang out with a friend. The friend just happened to be the teenage boy.
The Oklahoma Senate punished Senator Ralph Shortey on Wednesday with sanctions. They voted 43-0 for a resolution that accused him of disorderly behavior. The sanctions have removed Shortey from membership and leadership roles within various Senate committees. He has been barred from his office and parking spot at the Capitol. Other sanctions have removed his ability to have an executive assistant and has blocked his expense allowance.
Oklahoma Senate officials said Shortey will be allowed to vote and continue to receive his annual salary of $38,400. When the resolution was adopted without opposition, Shortey was not present and he has not issued a response to requests for a comment.
Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz, a Republican from Altus, Oklahoma, came up with the resolution and sanctions. The resolution was co-sponsored by 44 of the 48 senators. Schultz said in a statement after the resolution was passed that it was not a presumption of guilt or innocence.
Schultz said if more facts are revealed, the resolution that was passed imposing sanctions on Senator Shortey allows the Oklahoma Senate to pursue further action.
Also on Wednesday, Pam Pollard, the chair of the Oklahoma Republican Party, released a statement condemning Shortey for his alleged involvement in committing “a sex crime.” Her statement said that no person, especially a child, should be subjected to sex crimes. The statement also said that the Oklahoma Senate believes everyone has the right to a fair trial.
Ralph Shortey married his wife, Jennifer, in 2002, and the couple have two children. The newspaper reported that before Senator Shortey began his career in politics, he “attended Heartland Baptist Bible College in Oklahoma City in preparation for mission work in Uganda.”
By John Samuels
Photo Courtesy Oklahoma State Senate