A top member of President Donald Trump’s campaign team in Oklahoma has pled guilty to a child sex trafficking charge.
Ralph Shortey, also a former Oklahoma State Senator, was charged with offering to pay a 17-year-old boy for sexual “stuff” on March 9, 2016. A heavily-redacted police report revealed that local police had found a juvenile boy in a motel room with Shortey.
NewsOK reported that in exchange for the guilty plea, federal prosecutors will drop three child pornography counts against Shortey. The child sex trafficking charge does mean that Shortey will serve at least 10 years in prison — the mandatory minimum sentence for the crime. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment.
Shortey represented Oklahoma City in the state Senate from 2010 until his resignment shortly after his arrest. Shortey is a father of two. According to the Independent, he endorsed Trump in 2015 and was shortly thereafter named to the Trump campaign’s Oklahoma team as state chair in a now-deleted announcement on the Trump campaign website.
Shortey had met the teenage boy through a Craigslist ad and had communicated with him about sex via text message applications. Investigators found that Shortey had brought a box of condoms to the motel room.
According to an affidavit, the victim “confirmed that he and Shortey intended to have sexual contact and that they had agreed Shortey would pay him for the contact.” The conversation turned to sex after the boy said he needed money, but Shortey said he didn’t have anything “legitimate things” for him to do. He then inquired after “‘sexual’ stuff.”
The boy’s girlfriend had tailed him and notified the boy’s father, who then contacted law enforcement.
NewsOK reported that Shortey led a “secret life” of using fake names, emails and Craigslist ads to proposition young males with sex, and to send and receive pornography — which included of “underage males” and “child pornography,” the FBI said.