Nation & World

Police video shows Oklahoma lawmaker getting busted in motel room with underage boy

Police have released body-camera footage of the night they found former Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey in a motel room with an underage boy.

Shortey, who was accused of engaging in child prostitution and pornography, pleaded guilty last week to a federal charge of child sex trafficking.

The former two-term Republican senator entered his plea Thursday before U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti in exchange for federal prosecutors dropping three child pornography charges against him.

In the video, Shortey is wearing a T-shirt with a picture of a sandwich, a Bible verse and the words “Now go make me a sandwich.”

The Bible verse is Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”

Here is some of the exchange in the video footage from March 9 at a Super 8 in Moore, Okla.:

Officer: “Come out before you get me worried. Show me your hands.”

Shortey: “I’m sorry guys. You’re kinda freaking me out a little bit.”

Officer: “Yeah. That’s what we do. He’s 17.”

Shortey told the officers that he was just helping the teenager as a mentor.

Shortey: “Just hanging out, talking about life. He couldn’t graduate high school, and (I’m) trying to help him get his life on track.”

He admitted that drugs were in the motel room.

Officer: “Getting high with a young kid, whatever, is a bad idea.”

Shortey admitted to driving the teenager to the motel and chatting with him using a fake name.

Officer: “Yeah, you can shut the door. You’re good. We’re done.”

Shortey faces between 10 years and life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for child sex trafficking. The judge did not set a sentencing date.

The 35-year-old Shortey, a married father of four, resigned in March after he was arrested on state charges of engaging in child prostitution and transporting a minor for prostitution.

Acting on a tip from the teenager’s father, police went to the motel and smelled marijuana coming from a room where they found Shortey and the boy.

When officers knocked on the motel room door, Shortey told them he was alone, according to a redacted police report. But when officers said they would use a master-key to enter the room, Shortey opened the door and police found the 17-year-old inside.

Police also found a container labeled “Colorado Retail Marijuana” in the room and an “open box of condoms” inside a backpack, the report said.

A police report indicated a search of the teen’s tablet computer uncovered a series of sexually explicit exchanges in which Shortey referred to the teen as “baby boy” and offered him cash in exchange for “sexual stuff.”

The conversation had started with the teen messaging Shortey that he needed “money for spring break,” police wrote. Officers also found lotion and an open box of condoms inside backpacks in the room.

The FBI became involved in the case shortly after Shortey’s arrest and conducted a search of Shortey’s Oklahoma City home.

A federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment against Shortey in September. The indictment alleged that Shortey produced child pornography in 2016 and 2017 and used his smartphone to send videos involving young boys and a young girl in 2013.

The indictment also accused Shortey of child sex trafficking for allegedly soliciting a minor to engage in a commercial sex act on March 8 and 9 of this year — accusations that involved him and the teen at the motel, and that led to Shortey’s arrest and the state charges. Those charges against Shortey were dismissed following the federal indictment.

The Oklahoma Senate sanctioned him for “disorderly behavior.” It stripped away his committee memberships, kicked him out of his Capitol office and took away his state-issued computer, according to the New York Daily News.

His name was scraped off his office door, the locks changed and his name painted over on his parking spot.

His name was also removed as the author of Senate Bill 573, a proposal that would ban sanctuary cities in Oklahoma. Shorty is known for his strong stance against illegal immigration.

Shortey’s official legislative biography says he is married to his high school sweetheart and attended Heartland Baptist Bible College in Oklahoma City.

It says his legislative priorities include personal liberty, fighting illegal immigration and strengthening public safety in Oklahoma.

Shortey made headlines in January 2012 when he wrote a bill to ban the use of aborted human fetuses in food, even though he didn’t know of any company that used such a practice.The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Adam Darby: 816-234-4318, @adarby87