Tulsa’s NBC affiliate reports:
A former Republican state senator in Oklahoma has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on a child sex trafficking charge. Ralph Shortey was sentenced Monday in federal court in Oklahoma City. He had faced a sentence of up to life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Shortey pleaded guilty in November in exchange for prosecutors dropping three child pornography charges against him.
He said the plea deal was in the best interest of him and his family. The 36-year-old Shortey was arrested in March 2017 after police found him in a suburban Oklahoma City motel room with a then-17-year-old boy. He resigned shortly after the arrest.
Oklahoma City’s ABC affiliate reports:
“This is a tragic case all the way around. For my client, for the public, for everybody involved,” Shortey’s attorney Ed Blau said. The judge also called the case tragic after handing down the sentence.
“It’s a tragedy of your own making, but tragic none the less,” Judge Timothy DeGiusti said. During his sentencing testimony, Shortey broke down while reading an apology to his now ex-wife and children.
“I have destroyed my family,” Shortey said. The former lawmaker also apologized to fellow Christians and to his constituents. “By leading a double life, I’ve sinned for the past few years,” Shortey said in the courtroom.
Oklahoma City’s NBC affiliate reports:
Prosecutors say Shortey, then-married and father of four girls, sought out and sexually exploited other children engaged in child pornography dating back as far as 2012, exchanged drugs for sex with a 16-year-old boy, kept an extensive network of contacts — including children, possessed child pornography, and was well aware of the legal consequences of human trafficking of minors as he voted on legislation increasing state penalties.
During his seven years in the state senate, he regularly voted with his Republican colleagues on bills targeting the LGBTQ community and garnered national attention 2012 after authoring a bill prohibiting the use of aborted human fetuses in food, which never passed out of committee.