We trust that the people we put in power will make laws that will keep us and our communities safe. It’s the reason elected official are held to such a high standard and it’s the reason they’re expected to be exemplary citizens.
In March 2017, the people of Oklahoma discovered that one of the men they put in power after he had promised to protect their communities and their children was leading a double life that went against everything he supposedly stood for…
Before 35-year-old Ralph Shortey was elected to the Oklahoma Senate, he considered devoting his life to mission work. After graduating from high school in 2000, he decided to attend Heartland Baptist Bible College in Oklahoma City to prepare him for mission work in Uganda.
A Growing Family
However, after Ralph married Jennifer, his ‘high-school sweetheart’, in 2002 and became a father to two little girls after that, he knew that he would have to put his mission work on hold in order to support his growing family…
To best support his wife and their two daughters, Ralph started working in the gas and oil industry as a production consultant. But between 2002 and 2003, he started getting involved in a couple of different Republican political campaigns.
After years as a political volunteer, Ralph finally felt he found his calling. In 2010, Ralph decided to run for the Senate District 44 seat. While campaigning, he advocated for ‘family values’, which helped him beat the other three candidates…
Ralph was later reelected in 2014 and throughout his years in office, Ralph became known for taking strong stances against gun control and illegal immigration. He also regularly supported bills that targeted the LGBT community.
A Double Life
Ralph, now a father of four, seemed like a loving and devoted family man as well as a passionate politician. However, neither his supporters nor his own wife and children realized Shortey was leading a double life and hiding a disturbing secret…
In reality, Shortey was the farthest thing from a picture-perfect family man and that persona, which he had worked so hard to build, finally started to unravel when police caught him in a seedy motel room alone with a boy on March 9, 2017.
The Motel Room
According to the police, Shortey picked the 17-year-old up from his family’s home and took him to a nearby Super 8 Motel after they had previously spoken online and the teenager agreed to have sex with Shortey in exchange for money…
The 17-year-old originally answered one of Shortey’s personal ads on Craigslist the year before but kept in touch with a messaging app called Kik. But when the teen told Shortey he needed to make some money for spring break, Shortey replied, “I don’t really have any legitimate things I need help with right now. Would you be interested in sex stuff.”
Not According To Plan
The teen agreed and they made their plans to meet at the Super 8 Motel. But Shortey didn’t plan that the boy’s teenage girlfriend would follow them to the motel after she witnessed her boyfriend get in a car with a strange, older man…
After the girl witnessed the two enter a motel room together, she called her boyfriend’s father. Knowing that his son had a history of drug abuse and had previously offered himself sexually on craigslist, the man knew nothing good was happening in that room and immediately called the police.
The Police Arrive
At about 1 a.m. on March 9, police arrived at the Super 8 in Moore, Oklahoma. When two officers approached the room the teenager had been seen entering, they could smell marijuana from outside. Once inside, the cops discovered Shortey alone in the room with the 17-year-old…
The Truth Comes Out
After looking around the room, the officers noted the beds were unmade and found a bottle of lotion in the teen’s backpack and found a box of opened condoms in Shortey’s bag. After speaking with the cops, the teen explained he had planned to sleep with Shortey in exchange for money.
The Republican Senator was initially charged with engaging in child prostitution, transporting a minor for prostitution and engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church. However, those charges were dismissed when the state turned the case over to federal prosecutors…
The news came as a shock to his family and the community, but investigators suspected Shortey had much more to hide. As they started investigating Shortey, they finally found proof that he was guilty of far more than his original charges.
The Truth Is Revealed
Investigators found Shortey had been using several email addresses and fake aliases online to message people and send sexually explicit videos of young girls and boys. Shortey was then indicted in federal court on child pornography and sex trafficking charges…
In the wake of the disturbing allegations, Oklahoma’s Republican leaders called for Shortey to resign, which he did shortly after the charges were brought against him. Shortey’s wife and the mother of his four children, on the other hand, chose to stay with him.
Avoiding A Trial
If Shortey had gone to trial and lost, the minimum sentence would have been a 30-year prison sentence and the maximum sentence would have been life in prison. Because the case was nearly impossible to win, Shortey was willing to do anything to avoid a trial…
The Plea Deal
Months after investigators uncovered Shortey’s disturbing secret life, Shortey agreed to a plea deal with federal prosecutors in order to avoid a trial and avoid being sent to jail for the rest of his life. “It is in my best interest and in the best interest of my family,” Shortey wrote on plea paperwork.
Because Shortey agreed to a guilty plea, three of the child pornography counts have been dropped. Shortey will still be required to serve at least 10 years in prison, however, U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti is scheduled to decide the exact sentence next year.
Editor’s update, September 17, 2018: Ralph Shortey was sentenced to 15 years in prison, as reported by the Associated Press.