Oklahoma lawmaker surrenders on child prostitution charges
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma prosecutors on Thursday filed child prostitution charges against a Republican state senator after police found him in a hotel room with a 17-year-old boy.
Ralph Shortey, 35, surrendered to authorities on charges of engaging in child prostitution, transporting a minor for prostitution and engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of church. His bond was set at $100,000.
“I have no comment at this time but I will soon,” Shortey told television reporters as he arrived at the Cleveland County jail to surrender.
Court records don’t show if he had retained an attorney.
Moore police said that acting on a tip from the teen’s father, officers went to the Super 8 Hotel last week and smelled marijuana coming from a room. They found Shortey and the teen alone inside.
A search of the teen’s tablet uncovered a series of sexually explicit exchanges in which Shortey referred to the teen as “baby boy” and offered him cash in exchange for “sexual stuff,” according to a police report. Police also found lotion and an open box of condoms inside backpacks in the room.
The age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, but Oklahoma’s prostitution statute applies to any person under 18 years old.
A conservative Republican from south Oklahoma City, Shortey is married with three young children.
The Oklahoma Senate imposed sanctions Wednesday on Shortey, 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 was a county coordinator and early supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, wasn’t present when the resolution was adopted and didn’t show up to his Capitol office on Wednesday.
In a statement following its passage, Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz said it was not intended to be “a presumption of guilt or innocence.”
“The Oklahoma Senate has full faith that the judicial system will play out appropriately and bring this matter to a lawful conclusion,” Schulz said. “This resolution reserves the right of the Oklahoma Senate to pursue further action if more facts come to light.”