OKLAHOMA CITY – Dozens of recently unsealed court documents are providing more information about the federal government’s case against a former Republican state senator now charged in federal court with child sex crimes.
Ralph Shortey, who served as a state senator for Oklahoma City since 2010, was indicted in federal court last week on four counts stemming from a state child prostitution investigation that began in March of this year.
Federal search warrants, unsealed this week, show what federal authorities have been looking for since Shortey, 35, was discovered in a motel room with a teenage boy on March 9. Shortly after that discovery by Moore police, and subsequent investigation, Cleveland County prosecutors filed child prostitution-related charges against him.
According to the federal warrants, FBI investigators sought information from Google, Facebook and AOL, looking for connections to the pseudonyms “Jamie Tilley” and “Brian Tilley,” names agents say were used “almost exclusively for illicit and illegal sexual interests or encounters.”
The Moore Police Department was 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 a 17-year-old boy 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.
Moore police found the teen and the man in the hotel room that had a strong smell of marijuana; condoms were also found in the man’s backpack. The man was later identified as Shortey.
According to the 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,” said Cleveland County prosecutor Susan Caswell when Shortey was arrested and charged in March.
The teen told investigators the two had met on Craigslist and have known each other for about a year. The two communicated via the Kik messaging app, with Shortey responding under the username “Jamie Tilley.”
Federal warrant returns say Craigslist ads were posted by a user named “brinokc4u,” who authorities identified as Shortey, with some titled “Need a boy or bromance – m4m (man for man)” searching for “Looking for younger the better (legal) white or mixed.”
Another uncovered Craigslist ad sought for upwards of ten men, under 40-years-old, offering a man for group sex.
According to the warrants, Shortey would attach “photos of himself and his wife to emails sent to various individuals in connection with arranging sexual encounters.”
Investigators highlighted at least two instances, according to search warrant affidavits, when an email address was used to send videos of children engaged in sex acts, or used to swap pornography for children engaged in sex acts, dating as far back as 2012.
Shortey was charged in Cleveland County on March 16 with engaging in child prostitution, transporting a minor for child prostitution and engaging in prostitution near a church.
FBI agents raided Shortey’s home on the city’s southwest side on March 17. Agents were seen carrying boxes of items out of the home. Recently unsealed search warrants detail what investigators confiscated: digital and video cameras, cell phones, seven hard drives, laptops and other electronics. Court documents don’t detail what was contained in those items.
Shortey resigned from the senate on March 22. The next day, FBI agents were searching his office at the state capitol. The search warrant says Moore Police were notified that a “campaign worker or staff member inadvertently observed child pornography contained in a folder on Shortey’s computer in the capitol building.”
The Cleveland County charges were dismissed this week after a federal grand jury indicted Shortey on two counts of transporting child pornography, one count of producing child pornography and one count of child sex trafficking.
A jury trial is scheduled for October 10.