A former Republican state senator in Oklahoma was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison Monday on a child sex trafficking charge.
U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti handed down the sentence to Ralph Shortey, 36, who faced sentences of between 10 years and life in prison. DeGiusti also ordered Shortey to serve 10 years of supervised probation once he is released from prison and said he will impose a fine on the former two-term lawmaker at a later date. The fine could be up to $250,000.
Shortey pleaded guilty in November to a charge of child sex trafficking in exchange for U.S. prosecutors’ dropping three child pornography charges against him.
While the age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, child prostitution statutes apply to anyone under 18. Shortey faces a minimum of 10 years in prison on the child sex trafficking charge.
According to court documents, Shortey and the unnamed teen, referred to as John Doe, connected on Craigslist in or around February 2016. From then until March, the documents state, Shortey “obtained at least one image of John Doe’s penis.” Then, on or around March 8, the teen messaged Shortey saying, I need money for spring break.” The then-lawmaker asked if the teen would be interested in “sexual stuff.”
Shortey was arrested in March 2017 after police found him in a suburban Oklahoma City motel room with a then-17-year-old boy. Police were acting on a tip from John Doe’s father, they went looking for the teen at a Super 8 Motel in Moore, Oklahoma, on March 9 2017 , at a room rented with Shortey’s driver’s license and credit card. When officers knocked, Shortey told them he and the teen were getting dressed.
“When Shortey opened the door, Doe left the room with his backpack, which contained a bottle of lotion,” the police report stated. “Inside the room, Moore Police offers found Shortey’s backpack. Shortey’s backpack contained an open box of condoms and a laptop computer.”
The report also stated Shortey was in possession of child pornography that “depicts a man engaging in sexually explicit conduct with a prepubescent girl.”
Shortey resigned shortly after the arrest, and he said he was quitting because he did not want to be a “distraction” to his colleagues in the state senate. But he did not admit to any wrongdoing in his resignation letters to Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and State Sen. Mike Schulz.
Special Judge Martha Oakes granted his wife a divorce and allowed her to change her and their four children’s last name.
Ralph and Jennifer Shortey had been married since 2002. They were high school sweethearts.
They both told the judge the marriage was irretrievably broken and there was no chance for reconciliation.
The FBI also found that Shortey had previously used fake names to send and receive child pornography and to go on Craigslist to seek casual encounters with males, the “younger the better.”
Shortey was twice elected in a district covering south Oklahoma City and parts of two suburbs.