OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) – A suspended Republican Oklahoma state senator turned himself in Thursday after being indicted on felony child prostitution charges and stripped of his authority.
State Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, has been out of the public eye since he was found by police on March 9 in the suburb of Moore with a 17-year-old boy at a hotel.
Dressed in a black suit and light blue tie, Shortey surrendered at the Cleveland County Jail in Norman, one day after being charged with one count of engaging in child prostitution, one count of engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church, and one count of transporting a minor for prostitution. All three charges are felonies. His bail was set at $100,000.
Shorty offered teenager J.M. “money in exchange for sexual contact” within 1,000 feet of First Christian Church, the criminal information charging document states.
Police say the encounter was preceded by the boy sending Shortey an online message stating he needed money for spring break.
“The defendant replied, ‘I don’t really have any legitimate things I need help with right now. Would you be interested in ‘sexual’ stuff?’” a sworn affidavit states. “JM responded ‘Yes.’ The conversation goes on with both discussing logistics and how and where JM and the defendant are going to meet. JM tells the defendant ‘Hey keep updated cause I want you bad daddy.’ The defendant responds, ‘I’m gonna fuck you like a good little boy if you keep calling me daddy.’ The message included a smiley face emoji after boy.”
Police say they found a box of condoms on Shortey’s backpack and a bottle of lotion in the teenager’s backpack.
The boy allegedly said he had met Shortey on a Craigslist personal encounter listing and that they have known each other for one year. Police say a “strong odor of marijuana” came from the hotel room and they found a green plastic container labeled “Colorado Retail Marijuana.”
Shortey could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Fellow Oklahoma lawmakers swiftly condemned Shortey after the charges were announced. Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb said Shortey needed to resign “so the good people of southwest Oklahoma can move forward” with electing a replacement.
“Oklahomans deserve to be represented by those above reproach,” Lamb said in a statement. “Ralph Shortey has clearly failed to achieve this minimum standard and had rightfully lost his Senate privileges.”
Shortey was charged hours after he was stripped of his powers by the Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday. In a 43-0 vote, senators approved a resolution accusing Shortey of “disorderly behavior.”
The resolution removed Shortey from committees and kicked him out of his Capitol office and parking space. He will continue to receive his $38,400 annual salary, but his executive assistant was reassigned. His expense allowances were also revoked and he is blocked from authoring new bills.
If Shortey refuses to resign, it is likely the Senate will move for his removal from office, which requires a minimum of 32 votes.