“I’ve hurt more people than I can name,” Ex-senator sentenced for child sex trafficking

OKLAHOMA CITY - A former state lawmaker has been sentenced to 15 years of prison time on a child sex trafficking charge.

Former state senator Ralph Shortey was sentenced Monday morning in federal court after police caught him in March 2017 in a Moore hotel room with a then 17-year-old boy. The teenager said the two had kissed and "fooled around" when police officers arrived.

Shortey and the teenager met through Craigslist. One ad by Shortey read:

"Hey there guys. I'm 34 professional married guy looking for a boy. I guess I'm kinda a daddy type and would love to have a boy to play with and take care of a little on the side (sic)...looking for younger the better (legal) white or mixed."

During the investigation, police found conversations between Shortey and the boy on the social media app Kik where the teenager indicated he needed money for spring break. Shortey, under a screen name, asked if he would be interested in "sexual stuff."

The sentence also includes 10 years of supervised release. In court, Shortey made a statement before the judge handed down the ruling.

"I have hurt more people than I can name," Shortey said. "Sorry is not enough but, right now, it's all I've got to offer."

In November, Shortey pleaded guilty to the sex trafficking charge in exchange for three child pornography counts to be dropped. He was facing a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Prosecutors had asked for at least 25 years.

"The guidelines are high, but not without reason," said U.S. attorney McKenzie Anderson. "The court has an opportunity to protect children and send a message."

His attorney, Ed Blau, said they felt the sentence he received was fair.

"We were hoping the judge would show some leniency, and he did. This is a tragic case all the way around for my client, for the public and everyone involved," Blau said. "His wife and his kids, they didn't ask for any of this."

Blau presented a sentencing expert, based out of California, as a witness Monday in court. He was hired to investigate and look into Shortey's past.

"The general public, but not for this case, would never have known that Mr. Shortey grew up in poverty, on a Native American reservation in South Dakota. They would never know that he was subjected to horrific abuse by a series of stepfathers and boyfriends of his mother," Blau said. "They would never know that he was shot by his brother when he was 3 years old and all of those factors, the poverty, the tragedy went into the behaviors that led us here today."

In a press release, acting U.S. Attorney Robert Troester said “Today’s sentence shows that federal law enforcement will take whatever steps are necessary to protect children from sexual exploitation, regardless of the status or position of the defendant."

Ultimately, the Bureau of Prisons will determine where Shortey will serve his prison sentence. Blau has requested a facility in Texas.