OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) — Former Oklahoma state Senator Ralph Shortey was sentenced Monday to 15 years in federal prison for soliciting a teenage boy online for sex last year.
Shortey, 36, R-Oklahoma City, was silent when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti on one count of child sex trafficking. The judge said the case was a tragedy, “but a tragedy of your own making.”
He also fined Shortey $5,100 and sentenced him to 10 years of supervised release after he serves his time.
Shortey, contrite, wept as he read an apology to his now ex-wife and children before sentencing. He also apologized to fellow Christians and his former constituents. A father of four, Shortey was an early and vocal supporter of candidate Donald Trump.
“I have destroyed my family,” he said, according to CBS affiliate KWTV.
Shortey pleaded guilty nine months ago, admitting that he solicited an unidentified 17-year-old boy online for sex in March 2017. Prosecutors said the boy told Shortey on the Kik messaging app that he needed money for spring break.
“I don’t really have any legitimate things I need help with right now,” Shortey replied. “Would you be interested in ‘sexual’ stuff?”
The indictment stated Shortey drove the boy to a Super 8 Motel in Moore and rented a room with his credit card. Police say the boy’s father told them his son “has a history of soliciting himself” for sex on Craigslist and that they found the two in a room with a strong odor of marijuana, a bottle of lotion and an open box of condoms.
Defense attorney Ed Blau, of Oklahoma City, thanked the judge for considering Shortey’s “tragic” background in giving him a 15-year sentence. Prosecutors had asked for 25 years.
“He did the right thing and showed him some leniency,” Blau told reporters outside the courtroom. “This is a tragic case all the way around, for my client, for the public, for everyone involved. … The general public, but for this case, would never have known that Mr. Shortey grew up in poverty on a Native American reservation in South Dakota; they would never know that he was subjected to horrific abuse by a series of step-fathers and boyfriends of his mother. They would never know that he was shot by his brother when he was 3 years old.”
The Oklahoma Senate unanimously passed a resolution stripping Shortey of his powers and kicked him out of his Capitol office one week after the encounter. He turned himself into authorities hours later and resigned.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester said after sentencing that federal law enforcement with take “whatever steps are necessary to protect children from sexual exploitation, regardless of the status or position of the defendant.”