OKLAHOMA CITY – Pages of documents and photos from a child sex crimes investigation involving a former state senator were submitted by prosecutors this week in response to leniency requests ahead of his upcoming sentencing.
Ralph Shortey, 36, is scheduled to appear in federal court in Oklahoma City Monday for a sentencing hearing. He pleaded guilty last fall to child sex trafficking; prosecutors dismissed three child pornography charges as part of a plea agreement.
In March 2017, Shortey — then an Oklahoma state senator — was found at Moore hotel with a 17-year-old boy. First elected in 2010, the Oklahoma City Republican resigned from the senate shortly after he was charged with state child prostitution charges; those were dropped after federal charges were filed.
A sealed sentencing memorandum was filed by Shortey late last month. His attorney Ed Blau is not commenting.
However, according to a filing by prosecutors Thursday, Shortey is seeking leniency from Judge Timothy DeGiusti. In the filing, prosecutors argue a downward variance in sentencing guidelines doesn’t match up with evidence and circumstances of the case, and recommends a sentence within the guidelines determined by the court. Shortey faces ten years to life in prison.
Prosecutors say Shortey, then-married and father of four girls, sought out and sexually exploited other children engaged in child pornography dating back as far as 2012, exchanged drugs for sex with a 16-year-old boy, kept an extensive network of contacts — including children, possessed child pornography, and was well aware of the legal consequences of human trafficking of minors as he voted on legislation increasing state penalties.
During his seven years in the state senate, he regularly voted with his Republican colleagues on bills targeting the LGBTQ community and garnered national attention 2012 after authoring a bill prohibiting the use of aborted human fetuses in food, which never passed out of committee.
Included in the response by prosecutors were interview reports with police and the FBI, 14 online personal ads, crime lab photos of the motel room, messaging app friend lists and Oklahoma state statutes.
Fourteen ads from the now-shuttered personals section of the classifieds website Craigslist show Shortey sought a “boy,” offered sex with his wife, and group sex with strangers.
“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),” read one ad. “Looking for younger the better (legal) white or mixed.”
According to court documents, the boy found in the motel room responded to Shortey in February 2016. Named as John Doe in court documents, prosecutors say the then-16-year-old posted a picture on Craigslist and Shortey’s response “caught (the teen’s) attention because (Shortey) wanted (the teen) to ‘play around with his wife while he watched.'”
During interviews with Moore police, Shortey denied the March motel room rendezvous was sex-related.
“You show up with condoms, he shows up with lotion,” said one of the investigators to Shortey. “Yeah, there were condoms in your bag. The cops saw them.”
“That’s absolutely not true,” Shortey said. “I did not show up there for any sexual thing.”
Court documents say Shortey and the teen had sex at least twice, in exchange for drugs, and were naked and “fooling around” when police showed up to the motel room on March 9. In body camera video released by the Moore police department, it shows officers attempting to get the people in the room to come outside. Oklahoma’s age of consent is 16, however obtaining a 16 or 17-year-old for commercial sex is a crime.
“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.”
“You said you’re getting dressed? You better hurry it up.”
Prosecutors wrote Shortey’s conduct with the boy has led to him feeling isolated, a “fear of adults and strangers, helplessness, anxiety, depression, and nightmares.”
In addition to having a large number of friends on the messaging application Kik, some with usernames referencing child pornography, prosecutors say Shortey wanted to interact with children, citing his work as a church bus driver, extensive involvement with the Oklahoma YMCA Youth and Government program, and Oklahoma American Legion leadership week called Boys State.
Court documents show investigators recovered more than 1,000 pictures and videos of child pornography from an AOL account. Prosecutors also say Shortey destroyed a laptop he had in the motel room with the victim, destroyed or lost his smartphone, and never returned his state-issued laptop that likely stored child pornography.