Anti-LGBT Republican sentenced to 15 years in prison for child sex trafficking
Ralph Shortey, a senior member of Donald Trump’s primary campaign team in Oklahoma, has been handed a 15-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to child sex trafficking.
The Republican stepped down as state senator after being discovered in a hotel room with a 17-year-old boy who Shortey allegedly hired as a prostitute.
The age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, but the state’s child prostitution law applies to people under 18.
The politician will serve 10 more years of supervised probation after he’s released from prison, and was ordered to pay a fine at a later date that could be as much as $250,000.
Court documents show that Shortey, 36, initially told investigators that he met the teenager through a Craigslist personal encounter advert, explaining: “When we first met, I was trying to help him study and get his GED.”
The former representative added that the boy called him the day before his GED test to ask for help getting out of his home in order to study.
Shortey claimed he decided against taking him home because “I don’t think my wife would have appreciated that,” instead accompanying the teenager to a hotel where, he said, “we just decided to talk.”
But authorities uncovered messages on the boy’s tablet which allegedly showed Shortey offering to pay the teen for “sexual stuff” so he would have more money for spring break.
Shortey is said to have told him: “I’m gonna f*** you like a good little boy if you keep calling me daddy.”
Court documents also revealed claims that Shortey sent videos of young boys and a “prepubescent girl” over email in October 2013.
He was additionally alleged to have persuaded a minor to send him an inappropriate photo.
Officials charged him in federal court with production of child pornography, child sex trafficking and two counts of transportation of child pornography.
Shortey pleaded guilty to the child sex trafficking charge in November, in return for the other charges being dropped.
Earlier this year, Shortey’s wife of 16 years, Jennifer, was granted a divorce and the right to change her and their four children’s last name, according to Oklahoma news outlet NewsOK.
The two-term state senator, who was elected on a family values platform, consistently voted in favour of bills which would have negatively affected LGBT+ people.
One of these was a bill which proposed allowing businesses to discriminate against gay people.
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Last year, Ohio congressman Wes Goodman—a married Republican lawmaker with a long history of campaigning against LGBT+ rights—resigned after being caught having gay sex in his office.
The politician wrote on his now-defunct website about “healthy, vibrant, thriving, values-driven families” being “the key to Ohio’s future greatness.”
And earlier this year, Republican adviser Benjamin Sparks was accused of sexually enslaving and attacking his fiancée.
Sparks, who worked on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012, allegedly forced the 46-year-old woman to sign a five-page contract saying that she would become his “slave and property.”