Republican and ardent supporter of Donald Trump's presidential election campaign, Ralph Shortey, has been charged with three felony counts of child prostitution after he was found in a motel room with a teenager.
Oklahoma State Senator Shortey, married for over a decade and a half with the woman he met in high-school, was found with a 17-year-old boy in the room on Mar. 9. He has three young children.
Police officers were acting on a tip from the minor’s father. Visiting the motel, they detained the pair, finding sexually explicit exchanges between Shortey and the teenager on the latter’s tablet. Referring to the teenager as “baby boy,” police found messages from Shortey in which he offered money in exchange for “sexual stuff” we well as marijuana in the room, according to a police report.
The age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, but Oklahoma's prostitution statute applies to any person under 18-years-old. The 35-year-old conservative Shortey has been charged with engaging in child prostitution, engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church, and transporting a minor for prostitution. His bond has been set at US$100,000.
The Oklahoma senator, who helped rally voters from his home state in support of Trump, refused to address reporters outside Cleveland County jail. "I have no comment at this time, but I will soon,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Senate imposed sanctions on Shortey after a 43-0 vote in favor of accusing the Trump cheerleader of “disorderly behavior.” It has now removed Shortey from various Senate committees, barred him from occupying his office and blocked all expense allowances, among other decrees.
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"The Oklahoma Senate has full faith that the judicial system will play out appropriately and bring this matter to a lawful conclusion," Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz said. "This resolution reserves the right of the Oklahoma Senate to pursue further action if more facts come to light."
The official senate biography of Shortey lists his political priorities as “personal liberty,” fighting “illegal” immigration and strengthening public safety in Oklahoma. He opposes the Oklahoma Senate’s ban on firearms inside their building. The senator reportedly served as political advisor to shamed state Rep. Dan Kirby, who also faced sexual harassment allegations.