An Oklahoma state senator was booked Thursday on child prostitution charges for supposedly hiring a 17-year-old boy for sex, leading to calls for his resignation and a split internal investigation into his years of work with a youth program.
Ralph Shortey, a 35-year-old conservative Republican who has a wife and three daughters, give up to authorities on charges of engaging in child prostitution, transporting a small for prostitution and engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church. He was relieved after about two hours on a $100,000 bond.
"I have no comment at this time, but I will soon," he told reporters outside of the prison.
The assertions led to Shortey's removal from his volunteer position with the Oklahoma City and Government program, in which he has been active for 17 years and worked as a chaperone on several out-of-state trips, YMCA spokeswoman Brenda Bennett said. She said she was unknowing of any allegations of wrongdoing involving Shortey's work for the program, but that the agency is conducting an internal investigation due to the mood of the criminal case.
Acting on a tip from the teen's father, police went to the Super 8 Hotel in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore last week to check on the boy, who was seen going into a room with a man, as stated by to a police report. The officers were told the boy had solicited sex through Craigslist on other occasions and had a history of drug abuse.
The officers smelled marijuana smoke coming from the room and found Shortey and also the teen alone inside.
A search of the teen's tablet exposed a series of sexually explicit exchanges in which Shortey pointed to the teen as "baby boy" and offered him cash in exchange for "sexual stuff," according to a police report. The conversation had started with the teen messaging Shortey that he needed "money for spring break," police write down. Officers also found lotion and an open box of condoms inner backpacks in the room.
Shortey and the teen both told the officers that they had known each other about a year, having met through Craigslist and later connecting via the messenger application Kik, which has been criticized as being unsafe for minors.
The state Senate imposed sanctions Wednesday on Shortey, voting 43-0 for a resolution that charge with him of "disorderly behavior". After his arrest Thursday, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin and the chamber's top Republican and Democrat called for Shortey's instant resignation, saying he couldn't adequately serve his Oklahoma City district given the circumstances.
If he doesn't resign, Shortey, who was a county coordinator and early backer of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, could be ejected with a two-thirds vote, or 32 members in the 48-member body.
Before his arrest, Shortey was perhaps best known for instituting a bill in 2012 that would have banned the use of aborted human fetuses in food — a measure that drew widespread ridicule and was never granted a hearing in a Senate committee.