Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey was charged with three prostitution-related felonies on Thursday in Cleveland County Court.
Shortey was charged with engaging in child prostitution, prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church, and transporting a minor for prostitution/lewdness. A warrant for arrest has been issued. Judge Steve Stice set bond at $100,000.
Police found Shortey alone in a room at the Super 8 Motel in Moore on March 9 with a male juvenile.
The police affidavit lists a series of messages on the messaging app Kik allegedly between Shortey and the teenager as they planned to meet. After the juvenile asked if there was anything he could do for some money for spring break, Shortely allegedly responded, “I don’t really have any legitimate things I need help with right now. Would you be interested in ‘sexual’ stuff?”
The police affidavit says the room smelled of marijuana, and officers found an empty green plastic container with the printed label “Colorado Retail Marijuana.”
On Wednesday, the state Senate stripped Shortey of his leadership positions, his office space and other privileges. He can still draw a salary and vote on the Senate floor.
Shortly after charges were filed Thursday, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb issued a statement, saying Oklahomans deserve to be represented by people "above reproach," and Shortey falls short of that standard.
"In light of the charges filed against him, Ralph Shortey should resign from his seat so the good people of southwest Oklahoma City can move forward with electing a new state Senator," Lamb wrote.
Police in Moore, Oklahoma have recommended the Cleveland County District Attorney file three prostitution-related charges against a state senator who was found in a hotel room with a teenage boy last week.
KOCO 5 reports police recommend DA Greg Mashburn charge State Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, with soliciting prostitution of a minor, prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church and transporting for the purpose of prostitution. Mashburn has not filed charges as of Wednesday night.
According to a redacted police report, officers arrived at the Super 8 Motel on March 9 at 12:55 a.m. to perform a welfare check on a male juvenile. A relative of the juvenile requested the welfare check on the teenager because he “has a history of soliciting himself on Craigslist for sexual conduct,” and a history of drug abuse.
Officers could smell the odor of marijuana from the hotel room. Police knocked twice with no answer. Police eventually spoke to somebody on the other side of the door, who asked why officers were there. Police officers told the individual they could smell marijuana and they knew a juvenile was inside the room, and they would open the door with a master key. The teenage boy opened the door, while Shortey, whose name is redacted in the report but whose identity has been confirmed by Mashburn,stood behind the door.
Shortey told officers he was in the room to hang out with his friend, according to the report. One of the males indicated that he sells weed to the other, but it is unclear who is the seller and who is the buyer because the names are redacted. Either Shortey or the teenager said they had texted each other for over a year.
Police searched two backpacks, finding only a bottle of lotion and an open box of condoms.
Shortey told police he used the screen name “Jaime Tilley.” A conversation on a Kindle between the teenager and “Jaime Tilley” revealed the juvenile asked, “Is there anything I can help you do some cash.”
“How much you needing?”
“I need money for spring break,” the teenager said.
“Jaime Tilley” responded, “I don’t really have any legitimate things I need help with right now. Would you be interested in ‘sexual’ stuff?”
Senate punishment comes swiftly
The state senate passed a resolution on Wednesday, punishing Sen. Shortey for “disorderly behavior.”
He was removed from all committees, including two in which he was a vice chair. His executive assistant was reassigned, he was directed to return a state-owned laptop and any other state-owned property in his possession, and he is no longer authorized to occupy his office in Room 412. He also lost his parking spot. His name will be removed from all legislation under control of the Senate, and allowances for postage, office supplies and travel have been suspended. All pages under Shortey’s sponsorship have been reassigned. Shortey can still vote on the floor and receive his monthly salary, according to the Oklahoman.
“This is not a presumption of guilt or innocence. 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, R-Altus, wrote in a statement. “This resolution reserves the right of the Oklahoma Senate to pursue further action if more facts come to light. It would be inappropriate to comment any further due to the pending investigation.”
State Sen. Ralph Shortey is under investigation by the Moore police to determine why he was in a motel room with a teenage boy last week.
The Oklahoman’s Nolan Clay reports that Cleveland County district attorney Greg Mashburn is awaiting an investigator’s final report before making a decision about pressing charges.
As part of the investigation, police are examining text messages sent between Shortey and the boy, according to The Oklahoman. Relatives alerted police about their concerns for the boy.
Police on Tuesday would not release a report on the incident. Police did, however, release a brief statement when asked directly for an incident report involving Sen. Shortey.
"On March 9 ... officers of the Moore Police Department were contacted in reference to a welfare check at a local hotel," Lt. Kyle Dudley told The Oklahoman. "Responding officers found a juvenile male in a hotel room which was also occupied by an adult male. The circumstances surrounding this incident are currently under investigation and no additional information can be released at this time."
The front desk manager at the Super 8 in Moore confirmed Shortey had rented a room at the motel. He checked in on March 8 and checked out on March 9. The manager said two adults were registered.
Shortey told the newspaper on Tuesday that he would issue a response later.
This story will be updated.