Child prostitution case filed against state senator

BY NOLAN CLAY
Staff Writer nclay@oklahoman.com

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NORMAN — A conservative state senator who once wanted to be a missionary was accused Thursday in a child prostitution case of offering to pay a 17-yearold boy for sex.

Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, was charged with three felony counts, one week after police found him with the teenager in a Moore hotel room.

Gov. Mary Fallin, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, Senate leaders and many others called Thursday for him to resign.

The accusations “do not reflect the character and decorum that we expect of an elected official,” Fallin said. “It is not acceptable.”

The evidence against Shortey includes a graphic online conversation where the two discuss having sex and smoking marijuana, police reported in a court affidavit. The conversation was found on the teenager’s Kindle tablet.

Shortey, using the online name “Jamie Tilley,” at one point during the discussion about sex called the teenager “baby boy,” according to the affidavit.

Police reported finding an open box of condoms in Shortey’s backpack and a bottle of lotion in the teenager’s backpack after confronting them at the Super 8 in Moore.

Shortey, 35, turned himself in at the Cleveland County Detention Center around noon Thursday and was released about two hours later after posting bail. He had no comment.

The state Senate on Wednesday voted to punish Shortey for “disorderly behavior.” The unanimous vote stripped him of most of his privileges at the Capitol, including his office and parking space.

Shortey has been a senator since 2010 and has championed lawand-order issues. He is married to his high school sweetheart and has spoken

repeatedly of her importance in his life. They have three children.

Shortey is charged with engaging in child prostitution, engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church and transporting a minor for prostitution. Bail was set at $100,000.

Prosecutors specifically allege in the case that Shortey offered the teenager “money in exchange for sexual contact.” They allege that he knowingly took the teenager to the hotel room “for the purpose of engaging in prostitution.” They allege the hotel is within 1,000 feet of the First Christian Church in Moore.

The maximum punishment, if convicted, is 25 years in prison.

The teenager was not charged because prosecutors consider him to be a victim. He is listed on the charge, by his initials, as a witness against Shortey.

Police found Shortey and the teenager in the hotel room early March 9, according to a police report on the investigation. Police described the room as reeking of raw marijuana.

Police reported Shortey at first refused to open the door and initially told officers no one other than him was inside the room. Shortey had rented the room for one night, a frontdesk manager said.

Police went to Room 120 about 1 a.m. March 9 after being called by the teenager’s father, according to the police report. The father had been contacted by the teenager’s girlfriend. She had seen the teenager picked up by a male in a white Jeep Cherokee and followed them.

Police were told the teenager has a history of soliciting himself on Craigslist for sexual conduct and also had a history of drug abuse. The girlfriend was watching his house because he had said he was “going to get paid tonight” and she feared he was still involved in illegal narcotics, according to the police report.

Police reported in the court affidavit that the teenager, in the online conversation, told Shortey, “I need money for spring break.” Police reported Shortey replied, “I don’t really have any legitimate things I need help with right now. Would you be interested in ‘sexual’ stuff?” Police reported the juvenile then wrote, “Yes.”

Police reported the teenager later wrote, “Hey keep updated cause I want you bad daddy.” Police reported Shortey, using a graphic word, replied he was going to have sex with the teenager “like a good little boy if you keep calling me daddy.”

The teenager told police he had known Shortey for about a year and the two originally met through a Craigslist personal encounter ad, according to the court affidavit.

The teenager said the two were smoking marijuana in the hotel room when police knocked on the door, police reported. He also told police both he and Shortey brought marijuana to the room.

Police reported later seizing a green plastic container with the label, “Colorado Retail Marijuana.” Police reported the container smelled of marijuana and contained a small amount of marijuana residue.

Police also reported Shortey had asked the teenager during the online conversation, “You gonna wanna smoke?” The teenager wrote back, “That’s up to you.” Police reported Shortey then wrote, “Sounds good, can you bring a pipe or something, and a lighter?”

Prosecutors said they did not file a marijuana charge against Shortey primarily because of evidence issues. Police did not find the container until officers returned to the hotel room.

Shortey had studied in college to do mission work in Uganda but decided to go into the oil and gas industry after having his first child. “I actually planned my life around being a missionary,” he said in a TV interview.

He later went into politics — both as an elected senator and as a paid political consultant.

Last year, he helped former state Rep. Mike Christian, who lost a bid to become Oklahoma County sheriff. Christian is running again for sheriff this year in a special election but has a different consultant.

Christian was among those calling for Shortey to immediately resign. “Sen. Shortey has betrayed our trust and violated our values,” Christian said.

CONTRIBUTING: STAFF

WRITERS BRIANNA BAILEY,

RANDY ELLIS, JANE GLENN

CANNON, DALE DENWALT

AND KYLE SCHWAB