OKLAHOMA – Senator Ralph Shortey is free on bail, charged with three felony counts.
Thursday morning, prosecutors charged him with engaging in prostitution, engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church, and transporting a minor for prostitution.
Shortey has yet to resign from the Oklahoma Senate, and NewsChannel 4 has learned he will be able to keep his state retirement, even if he’s convicted.
Shortey, in a suit and tie, turned himself in around noon Thursday.
He spent a of couple hours at the Cleveland County Jail and posted a $100,000 bond.
Prosecutors charged Shortey one week after police caught him with a teenage boy at a Super 8 motel in Moore.
“He offered him money for sexual contact, he then picked up that minor and took him to a hotel for that purpose,” Cleveland Co. First Asst. District Attorney Susan Caswell said.
The evidence against the Republican senator is graphic.
Court records allege the teen boy sent a message to Shortey, saying he needed money for spring break.
Shortey allegedly asked the teen if he “would be interested in sexual stuff.”
The teen replied “yes.”
In the messages, Shortey reportedly called the teen “baby boy.”
Police say the teen wrote, “Hey keep updated cause I want you bad daddy.”
Police say Shortey used a graphic word and replied that he was going to have sex with the teen “like a good little boy if you keep calling me daddy.”
Authorities say room 120 reeked of raw marijuana, but police didn’t find any in an initial search.
They did find an open box of condoms and lotion in a backpack.
Court documents show Shortey had messaged the teen earlier asking if he wanted to smoke, then asked the teen to bring a pipe and a lighter.
A day after Shortey’s colleagues suspended him and took his name of his door, the Senate leader, along with the governor and many others, called for Shortey’s resignation.
“We need to get this behind us. The Senate needs to go ahead and expel Senator Shortey if he doesn’t resign before then. There’s a lot of big issues before the State of Oklahoma, and the last thing we need is the distraction of this particular case getting in the way of doing the people’s business,” House Minority Leader Scott Inman said.
Shortey, 35, has been in office long enough that he will get his state retirement.
There is a law that strips elected officials of their pension if convicted of a felony like bribery, corruption, or perjury, but it does not include prostitution with a minor.
“Bribery means an automatic revocation of your retirement benefits, doing these things with minor children does not? I think that ought to change,” Inman said.
Even if convicted, Shortey will receive over $9,000 a year from the state when he retires.
If that’s 25 years of retirement, for example, the State of Oklahoma will pay him nearly $230,000.
Leader Inman told NewsChannel 4 he plans to file legislation next year to expand the law to include other felonies.
NewsChannel 4’s continued calls to Shortey continued to go unanswered.
He is still able to vote on the Senate floor and collect a paycheck.