A Republican state senator from Oklahoma is facing prostitution charges after he was caught in a motel room with a 17-year-old boy to whom he offered money in exchange for “‘sexual’ stuff,” authorities said.
The charges against Sen. Ralph Shortey were filed Thursday, one week after he and the teenager were found at a Super 8 motel in Moore, Okla., just south of Oklahoma City, according to an affidavit. Authorities said the two met through an online personal ad about a year ago and had been texting since.
Shortey has been charged with three felonies: soliciting the prostitution of a minor; transportation for the purpose of prostitution; and prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church.
The allegations prompted Republican leaders in the state, including the governor, to call for Shortey’s resignation, and the Oklahoma Senate has moved quickly to sanction the two-term senator and strip him “of much of his power and many perks,” the Associated Press reported.
Shortey and the teen had talked on Kik, a messaging app, about meeting for sex March 9, the affidavit says. The teenager, identified in the affidavit as J.M., told the 35-year-old Shortey that he needed money for spring break.
“I don’t really have any legitimate things I need help with right now,” Shortey wrote, the affidavit says. “Would you be interested in ‘sexual’ stuff?”
“Yes,” the teen responded.
Authorities say the two then went on to talk about the logistics of their meeting — and about bringing marijuana to the motel, which is near First Christian Church.
Later, a witness saw Shortey pick up the teen in his white Jeep Cherokee, the affidavit says. The witness followed the two to the Super 8.
Shortey initially denied that an underage teenager was with him after officers knocked on the motel room door, according to a redacted police report. A search of the teen’s Kindle tablet revealed the Kik conversation with Shortey, who went by “Brinokec4u” on the app, according to the affidavit.
Police also found a container labeled “Colorado Retail Marijuana.” Both Shortey and the teen told officers that they each brought 1 gram of marijuana to the motel, and Shortey said they were smoking when police knocked on the door, the affidavit says.
The affidavit does not say who the witness was or why that person followed Shortey and the teen to the motel. But the Associated Press reported that officers received a tip from the teen’s father.
The police report also states that the father was at the motel when police arrived and told police that his son was seen going inside the room with a man.
Shortey turned himself in at the Cleveland County Jail on Thursday and was released on a $100,000 bond. No court date has been set, according to the Cleveland County district attorney’s office.
“I have no comment at this time, but I will soon,” Shortey told reporters outside the jail, according to the Associated Press.
Efforts to reach Shortey on Thursday were unsuccessful. A number listed under his name has been disconnected. A call to Shortey’s Senate spokesman was not answered.
The Oklahoma Senate sanctioned Shortey on Wednesday for “disorderly behavior.” The Senate voted unanimously on a resolution imposing a series of punishments, including banning Shortey from his Capitol office, removing his name from any legislation and suspending his leadership positions on certain committees.
Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz (R) said the resolution was not meant to be “a presumption of guilt or innocence,” according to the AP.
“The Oklahoma Senate has full faith that the judicial system will play out appropriately and bring this matter to a lawful conclusion,” Schulz said in a statement after the resolution’s passage. “This resolution reserves the right of the Oklahoma Senate to pursue further action if more facts come to light.”
Schulz and other GOP leaders in the state have called for Shortey to step down.
“Ralph Shortey should resign his seat in the Senate,” Gov. Mary Fallin said in a statement, according to the Tulsa World. “The charges against him do not reflect the character and decorum that we expect of an elected official. It is not acceptable.”
According to the Associated Press:
If he doesn’t resign, Shortey, who was a county coordinator and early supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, could be expelled with a two-thirds vote, or 32 members in the 48-member body.
The AP reported that before Shortey “was even arrested or formally charged, Senate workers already had scraped his name from his office door, changed the locks and painted over his name in the parking lot.”
Shortey was first elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 2010, to represent a portion of Oklahoma City. His senate biography describes Shortey as a “longtime political volunteer” who worked in the oil and gas industry as a production consultant before entering public office.
He is married to his “high school sweetheart” and attended Heartland Baptist Bible College in Oklahoma City, according to the biography. He and his wife have three children, according to local media reports.
Shortey’s priorities in the legislature are “personal liberty, fighting illegal immigration and strengthening public safety in Oklahoma,” his biography states.
In 2012, Shortey stirred controversy by authoring a bill to prohibit “the manufacture or sale of food products which use aborted human fetuses.” According to the Oklahoman, Shortey said he introduced the bill after reading about an antiabortion group’s plea to the public to boycott products of major food companies partnering with a biotech firm that was using aborted fetal cells to test its products’ flavor.
“People are thinking that this has to do with fetuses being chopped up and put in our burritos,” Shortey said, according to the Oklahoman. “That’s not the case. It’s beyond that.”
Shortey, known for his strong stance on illegal immigration, recently proposed a bill that would ban sanctuary cities in Oklahoma. Senate Bill 573 was introduced early last month; Shortey’s name was removed as author Wednesday.
This post has been updated.