NORMAN – A former state senator facing child prostitution charges made an appearance in court this afternoon.
Ralph Shortey, a Republican from Oklahoma City who represented the state’s 44th senate district, was charged last week in Cleveland County with three counts relating to child prostitution. He turned himself in last Thursday and has been out on bond since.
He faces three felony counts of engaging in child prostitution, engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church and transporting a minor for prostitution or lewdness.
Friday was his initial court appearance and the judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
Another court date has been set for April 11.
Shortey, 35, resigned from his senate seat Wednesday, one week after the senate voted to suspend him from all activities. Since, calls for his resignation have echoed at the state capitol.
The charges stem from a Moore Police Department investigation that began when police were called to the Super 8 motel at 1520 N. Service Rd. for a runaway teen shortly before 1 a.m. on March 9.
Court documents said a friend of the teen watched him get into an SUV near his home.
The friend then followed the vehicle to the hotel where the teen was seen going into a room with an unknown man.
According to a search warrant affidavit, the friend called the teen’s father, who then alerted police.
The man was later identified as Shortey.
Moore police found the 17-year-old boy – who has a history of soliciting for sex on Craigslist, according to his parents – and Shortey in the hotel room with evidence of condoms and a strong smell of marijuana.
Friday morning Moore Police officials announced they would not be releasing any video related to this case at this time due to the ongoing investigation.
Court documents lay out lurid messages that were sent between the teen and Shortey.
WARNING: The court documents in the link below contain GRAPHIC, DISTURBING and ADULT language. Reader discretion is strongly advised.
Based on the police affidavit and prosecutors, Shortey sought to exchange money for sex with the teen.
“He offered him money for sexual contact, he then picked up that minor and took him to a hotel for that purpose,” Susan Caswell, Cleveland County first assistant district attorney, said last week after charges were filed.
After Shortey submitted his resignation to the senate, his attorney released a personal statement from his client:
Earlier today, I submitted my resignation, effective immediately, to the President Pro Tempore (Sen. Mike Schulz) of the Oklahoma Senate, as well as to Governor (Mary) Fallin. I thank the constituents of Senate District 44 for the opportunity they provided to serve. Because I take that responsibility seriously, I recognize that the charges against me are a distraction to their interests and the remaining legislative session, which should serve all Oklahomans. My resignation is evidence of my respect for public service and the duties of our elected officials. I ask for the privacy of my family – my wife and four daughters – as I defend myself of these charges.
If convicted on all counts, Shortey faces up to 25 years in prison.