Former Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Ralph Shortey pleaded guilty to federal child sex trafficking after he was caught with a teenage boy in a motel room, The Oklahoman reports. Shortey had worked as Trump’s state campaign chairman in 2016.
Shortey has agreed to plead guilty to the trafficking charge after he offered to pay a 17-year-old boy for sexual “stuff” in March.
In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors have agreed to drop three counts of child pornography against him.
While the plea allows the 35-year-old to escape a potential nearly lifelong prison sentence, the trafficking charge carries a minimum of 10 years in prison.
“It is in my best interest and in the best interest of my family,” Shortey wrote in his plea deal.
Shortey is still married to his wife, with whom he has four daughters.
“Mr. Shortey feels this is a necessary step in putting this painful and humiliating ordeal behind him, for both himself, his family and for the state of Oklahoma,” his lawyer, Ed Blau, told The Oklahoman.
More, via The Oklahoman:
The teenager’s girlfriend had followed them to the hotel after seeing Shortey pick him up. She then alerted the teenager’s father who called police.
Police reported Shortey and the victim had carried on a conversation about sex using the messaging app Kik before going to the hotel. Their conversation had turned graphic when the teenager wrote, “I need money for spring break,” according to police.
Shortey had replied, “I don’t really have any legitimate things I need help with right now. Would you be interested in ‘sexual’ stuff?” The teenager then wrote, “Yes,” according to police.
Officers reported finding an open box of condoms in Shortey’s backpack and a bottle of lotion in the teenager’s backpack.
The victim “confirmed that he and Shortey intended to have sexual contact and that they had agreed Shortey would pay him for the contact”