MOORE, Okla. – Days after a former state senator pleaded guilty to federal child sex trafficking, Moore police released body cam footage of the call that led the then-seated senator to be charged with state child prostitution charges.
Ralph Shortey, 35, pleaded guilty to child sex trafficking in federal court last week; in exchange, child pornography charges were dropped.
Shortey, a former Republican state senator from Oklahoma City, was charged in federal court in September after a months-long investigation that started in March 2017 when he was found in a Moore hotel room with a 17-year-old boy.
Police were called to the Super 8 Motel, located at 1520 I-35, in the early morning hours of March 9 for a welfare check. Moore police released body cam video Monday from multiple officers who responded to the call.
“So, what are they saying?” asked one of the responding officers.
“Well, drug related, maybe,” replied another officer. “Maybe was coming here to buy some weed. Either here for narcotics, or prostitution for narcotics.”
“Like, the kid’s prostituting himself out?”
The video shows police attempting, for several minutes, to get people from inside the first floor room to come outside.
“Hey, it’s Moore Police Department, man. We just need to check on your welfare, make sure you’re okay. We’re not going away.”
The officers could be heard conversing with someone inside.
“You said you’re getting dressed? You better hurry it up.”
Several times, officers remarked about the strong smell of marijuana coming from inside the room. Eventually, the video cuts off when the teen emerges, but the door is closed again.
“What we are worried about is you having a juvenile in there. Yeah, this one,” as the video cuts off and picks back up to when the door opens again.
“Come out,” said one officer, as Shortey is hiding behind the door. “Now, you’re getting me worried, show me your hands.”
Shortey answered the door in a white t-shirt with the words Ephesians 5:22, a bible verse, written on it, as well as “now go make me a sandwich” written below an image of a sandwich. The bible verse is in reference to women submitting to their husband’s will, as they do to the Lord.
“Can you show me that he’s only 17?” Shortey asks one of the officers.
“I can’t,” one officer replies, almost incredulously. “But, I can convince you that he is. I can put you in handcuffs and throw you in the back of car.”
Officers – who at the time did not know Shortey was a seated state senator – asked him why he was inside the hotel room with a teen boy, who smelled of marijuana. Video also shows the beds were unmade.
“So, what was going on over here tonight, man?”
“We were just hanging out, talking about life and stuff,” Shortey replied. “We’ve been talking for a few months about. Tomorrow, he told me he was going to get his GED. Couldn’t graduate high school and was trying to get his life on track.”
Shortey wasn’t arrested that evening, but the call spawned a wide-ranging investigation that led to Shortey being charged with child prostitution in Cleveland County, eventually leading to his resignation from the Oklahoma State Senate.
Those state charges were later dropped after federal prosecutors charged Shortey with child sex trafficking and child pornography charges in September. Shortey pleaded guilty to child sex trafficking last week, and a sentencing hearing is pending. He faces between 10 years to life in prison.
“What sense does it make, me lying to you?” said an officer in the body cam footage. “But, listen, whatever you’re doing, it’s a bad [expletive] idea. Does that make sense to you? Getting high, with a young kid, is a bad idea. No matter if they’re 17 or 20. It’s a bad idea. You understand what I’m saying?”