Court date set for married Republican Senator charged with child prostitution
A court date has been set for a married Republican legislator who surrendered himself to police after he was caught in a motel with a teenage boy.
Oklahoma state Senator Ralph Shortey, a senior member of Donald Trump’s primary campaign team in the state, was placed under investigation over the incident at a Super 8 Motel, details of which emerged earlier this month.
The Republican politician, who is married with children, had booked a room at the motel shortly after midnight on March 9. Responding to concerns less than half an hour later, police discovered Shortey in the room with a 17-year-old boy.
According to authorities, messages between the pair suggest Shortey hired the boy as a prostitute. The age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, but the state’s child prostitution law applies to people under 18.
Shortey surrendered himself on 16 March and has since been charged with three counts including engaging in child prostitution, engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church and transporting minor for prostitution/lewdness.
He also resigned from his Senate seat on Wednesday 22 March.
He will next appear in court on 11 April.
In a letter of resignation to the President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate, Shortey wrote: “I thank the constituents of Senate District 44 for the opportunity they provided to serve.
“Because I take that responsibility seriously, I recognise 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 respect for the privacy of my family — my wife and four daughters — as I defend myself of these charges.”
Appearing at Cleveland County District Court last week he was charged with engaging in child prostitution, engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church and transporting a minor for prostitution.
His bail was set at $100,000.
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According to The Oklahoman, the teenager told police he had met Shortey through a personal encounter ad on Craigslist and had known him for about a year.
Shortey was rebuked by the Senate for “disorderly behaviour” in wake of the revelations.
The Senate passed a resolution to suspend Shortey from all committees and strip his name from all legislation. The lawmaker’s seat was empty as the vote passed unanimously.
Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz said at the time: “This is not a presumption of guilt or innocence. The Oklahoma Senate has full faith that the judicial system will play out appropriately and bring this matter to a lawful conclusion.
“This resolution reserves the right of the Oklahoma Senate to pursue further action if more facts come to light.
“It would be inappropriate to comment any further due to the pending investigation.”