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Charges of Child Prostitution Prompt Oklahoma Senator’s Resignation
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Ralph Shortey

Summary: After being charged with engaging in child prostitution, an Oklahoma senator has resigned his position.

Oklahoma Republican state senator Ralph Shortey has been charged by state prosecutors for engaging in child prostitution for soliciting sex from a 17-year-old boy. Shortey, who has resigned, will face various felony child prostitution charges.


Police were directed to a Super 8 motel in Moore to conduct a welfare check after the father of the boy called in. A strong marijuana smell was coming from one of the rooms. When officers entered the room, they found Shortey and a teenage boy alone inside. Police search the boy’s tablet, uncovering a series of sexually explicit messages with Shortey. In the messages, Shortey referred to the teenager as “baby boy,” offering him cash in exchange for “sexual stuff.” The teenager apparently reached out the Shortey saying he needed “money for spring break.” Lotion and an open box of condoms were found inside backpacks in the room. The two report to have known each other for about a year after first meeting through Craigslist.

Shortey turned himself into the Cleveland County jail. He was released on $100,000 bond. Oklahoma’s age of consent is 16 but the prostitution statute applies to anyone under 18 years old so Shortey was charged with engaging in child prostitution, transporting a minor for prostitution, and engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church. No federal charges have been filed yet.

A search of his Oklahoma City home was conducted by the FBI last Friday. Shortey is from southern Oklahoma City and is married with three kids. The state Senate voted to remove most of his power, including being able to serve on Senate committees and author bills. They also took his office, executive assistant, and parking space away.

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While many have called for his resignation last week, they did not vote to expel him so he could continue to draw his $38,400 annual salary. He is also eligible to collect his state retirement even if convicted. Executive Director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System Joseph Fix explained that Shortey has served six years in the Oklahoma Senate, making him vested in the state’s retirement system. The way Oklahoma law is currently setup, one would have to be convicted of bribery, corruption, forgery, perjury, or a felony related to campaign finance or duties of office to forfeit their retirement benefits. Assuming Shortey contributed the maximum to his retirement, he is able to collect the $9,216 annual benefit once he turns 60.

Since Shortey has since resigned, he will no longer receive his salary. In his resignation letter, Shortey said, “I appreciate the service the men and woman of the Oklahoma Senate provide, and I recognize the need for the business of the Senate to proceed without distraction for the remainder of the legislative session.”

Shortey also served as a volunteer for the Oklahoma City YMCA’s Youth and Government program. In the position, he acted as a chaperone on several out-of-state trips with the 17-year-old group. YMCA spokeswoman Brenda Bennett said there are no allegations of any wrongdoing during his role with the program but an internal investigation will be conducted to make sure because of the seriousness of the allegations.

Attorney Ed Blau is representing Shortey.

Do you think any senator should be entitled to their state retirement if they are convicted of a felony? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about child prostitution cases, read these articles:




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