Ralph Shortey, a former Republican senator from Oklahoma, was sentenced to 15 years for child sex trafficking. According to NBC News, the charges come after Shortey was arrested in March, 2017, when police found the former senator in a Super 8 motel room with a then 17-year-old boy, after police received a tip from the boy’s father. When they arrived, police said the room smelled like marijuana; they also found an open box of condoms in the teen’s bag, and they accused Shortey of hiring the boy for sex. When asked about the incident by police, he claimed he was at the hotel to “hang out with his friend.”
Shortey resigned from his position just after the arrest. In November, the former senator pleaded guilty in order for the prosecutors to drop three charges of child pornography that he was also facing. At the time, Shortey said the plea deal is what was best for himself and his family. Shortey’s wife, Jennifer Shortey, divorced him earlier this year.
When police conducted a search of the teen’s tablet, they found a number of “sexually explicit exchanges,” one of which involved Shortey offering the teen money for “sexual stuff.” An FBI search found that Shortey had used aliases to obtain and send child pornography and that he tried to solicit sex with other males on Craiglist, saying the “younger the better.”
During his time in the Oklahoma Senate, Shortey, 36, voted for anti-transgender legislation, including the infamous “bathroom bill” which would have forced trans people to use the bathroom of the sex they were assigned to at birth. After Shortey’s arrest was announced, many LGBTQ advocacy groups commented on Shortey’s indiscretion, according to Dead State.
“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.”
In addition to his sentence of 15 years in federal prison, Shortey will also have to undergo 10 years of supervised probation and will face a possible fine of $250,000.
Shortey was first elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014.