In March of 2017, former Oklahoma state senator Ralph Shortey was arrested and charged with child prostitution after being caught in a hotel room with an underage boy. This Monday, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison on a child sex trafficking charge.
Shortey, who is now 36, faced sentences between 10 years to life. Once he is released from prison, he’ll serve 10 additional years of supervised probation. The judge said that Shortey will also have to pay a fine at a later date that could be up to $250,000.
In November, Shortey pleaded guilty in a deal that allowed prosecutors to drop three child pornography charges against him, a deal he said at the time was in the best interest of him and his family.
According to the Moore Police Department, Shortey was arrested in March of 2017 after police went to “check on a juvenile at the Super 8 Motel” in Moore, Oklahoma. When they found Shortey and the juvenile, who was then 17, there was allegedly a “strong smell of marijuana” and an open box condoms in the juvenile’s bag. Shortey claimed he had simply gone to the hotel to “hang out with a friend.”
Police also said they found sexually explicit exchanges on the teen’s tablet in which Shortey referred to the teen as “baby boy” and offered him cash in exchange for “sexual stuff.”
According to ABC News, Shortey resigned shortly after the arrest and his wife divorced him earlier this year.
In the wake of Shortey’s arrest, LGBT advocacy groups pointed out his support for anti-transgender legislation such as a proposed “bathroom bill” from 2016.
From The Norman Transcript:
These stigmatizing bills create fear, bias, and discrimination against the LGBTQ community even when they fail. We find it highly ironic that Senator Shortey voted to advance this legislation out of committee, and less than a year later, he was caught in what appears to be actual predatory behavior toward a vulnerable youth. …
There has never been a legitimate recorded incident in Oklahoma of a transgender person harming anyone in a restroom, yet there are numerous accounts of predatory behavior by anti-LGBTQ legislators who have taken bigoted votes akin to the vote Senator Shortey cast last year.
Shortey had also previously used fake names to acquire child pornography and to seek out minors on the internet.
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