State Sen. Ralph Shortey was charged Thursday with engaging in child prostitution, engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church and transporting a minor for prostitution/lewdness.
Gov. Mary Fallin called for Shortey to step down, and the leader of the Senate sent a letter requesting his resignation.
“Ralph Shortey should resign his seat in the Senate,” Fallin said in a statement released by her office. “The charges against him do not reflect the character and decorum that we expect of an elected official. It is not acceptable.
“In the meantime, there’s a criminal justice system in place to review the allegations. We should respect the process and allow it to work as designed.”
Shortey turned himself in about noon Thursday and was being processed at the Cleveland County Jail, The Oklahoman reported. Court records show that he posted $100,000 bond.
Cleveland County prosecutors filed the charges after police investigated an incident involving Shortey and a teenager at a Moore motel.
Shortey, 35, and the teenager admitted to police that they had engaged in conversations “pertaining to sexual activities in exchange for money,” a police detective wrote in a court affidavit for a search warrant related to the March 9 incident.
Police launched the investigation after being called by the boy’s father, who had been contacted by his son’s girlfriend.
Officers reported smelling marijuana as they approached the room and knocked on the door.
Shortey initially told officers there was “no one other than him inside the room,” but the teenager later came out after officers said they were going to enter the room with a master key from management, police reported.
Officers reported that they did not find marijuana while searching a backpack in the room but did find an open pack of condoms.
Police also found a text conversation preserved on the teenager’s tablet computer about the teen’s need to make some money for spring break, according to the incident report. Using an alias screen name, Shortey allegedly responded, “I don’t really have any legitimate things I need help right now. Would you be interested in ‘sexual’ stuff?”
Police were told the teen had a history of drug abuse and “soliciting himself on Craigslist for sexual conduct,” the police incident report states.
Shortey was suspended by the Senate on Wednesday for “disorderly behavior.”
He has not commented.
Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz sent a one-sentence letter requesting Shortey’s immediate resignation after the charges were filed.
“In light of the criminal charges filed against you today, I respectfully request on behalf of the Oklahoma State Senate your immediate resignation as senator of District 44,” Schulz wrote.
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb was among the first to call on Shortey to resign “so the good people of southwest Oklahoma City can move forward with electing a new state senator.”
“Oklahomans deserve to be represented by those above reproach,” Lamb said. “Ralph Shortey has clearly failed to achieve this minimum standard and had rightfully lost his Senate privileges.”
Oklahoma County GOP Chairman Daren Ward said the charges leave Shortey “unfit to serve while facing these horrific allegations.”
The Oklahoman contributed to this report.