Former Oklahoma state senator pleads guilty to child sex trafficking charge: report
A former Oklahoma state senator has pleaded guilty to a child sex trafficking charge, The Oklahoman reported Saturday.
Former state Sen. Ralph Shortey, a Republican, had been accused of offering to pay a 17-year-old boy for sexual “stuff” earlier this year. Federal prosecutors will drop three additional child pornography charges against him in exchange for his guilty plea.
“It is in my best interest and in the best interest of my family,” the former state senator wrote in plea deal paperwork signed this week, according to the Oklahoman.
By pleading guilty, Shortey is hoping to receive a lighter sentence. Child sex trafficking carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, and a maximum sentence of life in prison. U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti will sentence Shortey next year.
Shortey was first elected to the Oklahoma state Senate in 2010. He resigned from office on March 22, two weeks after being found in a motel room with the 17-year-old boy.
Shortey and the victim had first met through Craigslist a year earlier. According to the Oklahoman, the two carried on conversations via the messaging app Kik before going to the motel.
Police said the teenager had told the state senator that he needed “money for spring break,” to which Shortey replied: “I don’t really have any legitimate things I need help with right now. Would you be interested in ‘sexual’ stuff?”
The teenager responded “yes,” according to police.
Officers reportedly found an open box of condoms in Shortey’s backpack, as well as a bottle of lotion in the victim’s backpack when they were found at the motel in March. The teenager confirmed to police that they intended to have a sexual encounter, according to the Oklahoman.