The Norman Transcript, Okla.
NORMAN — The federal child sex crime case against former state senator Ralph Allan Lee Shortey is coming to a close.
On Thursday, Shortey, 35, of Oklahoma City, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of child sex trafficking. The offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
On behalf of Shortey, his attorney Ed Blau released a statement following the court proceedings.
“Ralph Shortey has decided to enter a guilty plea in this matter to take full responsibility for his actions and move past this embarrassing and difficult time. He believes that this is the best decision for himself, his wife, his children and his family, who he thanks for their love and support. He and his family ask that their privacy be respected going forward, as they attempt to rebuild their lives,” the statement read.
In exchange for Shortey’s plea, U.S. prosecutors agreed to drop three child pornography counts against him at his sentencing hearing, which is expected to occur within the next 90 days. After U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti accepted Shortey’s guilty plea, he ruled Shortey would remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service until that date.
In March, Shortey was originally charged with engaging in child prostitution, engaging in child prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church and transporting a minor for the purpose of prostitution in Cleveland County District Court. However, in light of the federal indictment in September, the Cleveland County charges were dismissed.
According to a Moore police affidavit, officers were alerted March 9 by a juvenile’s father that his teenage son had entered into room at the Super 8 Motel in Moore with an adult.
When officers arrived on scene, they observed an adult, later identified as Shortey, and the victim, a then-17-year-old boy, inside the room.
Officers additionally found backpacks with condoms and lotion in them and found a Kindle Fire with a text conversation between Shortey and the juvenile that detailed Shortey promising to pay the juvenile for sex. No one was arrested that night, the affidavit read.
The incident in Moore prompted an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Moore Police Department, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service.
The investigation revealed it wasn’t the only time Shortey posted Craigslist ads seeking sex with young males and pornography.
On Sept. 5, a federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment against Shortey, alleging he used his smartphone to send a video involving a prepubescent girl and videos involving young boys from his AOL email address to a Hotmail address and a Yahoo address, persuading a minor identified as John Doe to send him at least one image of Doe’s genitalia, and soliciting a minor to engage in a commercial sex act March 8 and 9 this year.
On March 22, Shortey resigned his position on the Oklahoma Senate. He was elected in 2010.
The Oklahoma State House of Representatives coincidentally announced Thursday that a bill is making its way through the Oklahoma Legislature that aims to hold those who serve in the legislature, and those who resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct, accountable.
“Lawmakers who resign in disgrace should not continue to receive state benefits or be able to retain their campaign funds once found to be guilty of misconduct,” State Rep. Zack Taylor R-Seminole said. “The Oklahoma taxpayer deserves to be protected from the embarrassment and costs that result from these scandals. I will continue to work for passage of this measure, and I welcome any and all support from other leaders in our state.”
House Bill 1067 was filed by Taylor in October in an effort to force lawmakers who are found to be guilty of dishonorable conduct to forfeit their retirement benefits and remaining campaign funds. The bill also would require new lawmakers to sign a waiver acknowledging they would forfeit these funds and benefits, should they exhibit such behavior while in office.
The bill was not heard during the special session but could be considered in the regular legislative session, the release stated.
©2017 The Norman Transcript (Norman, Okla.)
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