A former Oklahoma state senator charged with producing and transporting child pornography has pleaded guilty to one count of child sex trafficking.
“It is in my best interest and in the best interest of my family,” former Republican Sen Ralph Shortey wrote on a plea paperwork signed on Monday (20 November), according to The Oklahoman.
Federal prosecutors have agreed to drop three counts of child pornography against the 35-year-old in exchange for his guilty plea.
The married father of four is accused of offering to pay a 17-year-old boy for sexual “stuff” earlier this year.
He will now be required to serve at least a 10-year prison term, the mandatory term for people convicted of child trafficking.
Shortey’s jury trial was set to begin on 5 December in Oklahoma City federal court but he will now plead guilty on 30 November.
The federal indictment against Shortey mentions how he created a Craigslist account under a fake name and requested anyone responding to his ads to communicate with him via Kik.
Kik is a social media application that allows users to send photos, videos and text messages.
The indictment also states that Shortey had used his email account to send a video titled “051st Time Sex Videos”.
Shortey is also charged with communicating with a minor boy named John Doe via Kik. The two had met a year before through the Craigslist ad.
“Between on or about 14 February, 2016, and on or about 8 March, 2017, in the Western District of Oklahoma, Shortey employed, used, persuaded, induced, and enticed a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct, and such visual depiction was actually transported and transmitted using a means and facility of interstate and foreign commerce, in that Shortey so obtained at least one image of John Doe’s penis,” a part of the indictment read.
Shortey resigned on 22 March from his Oklahoma Senate seat. He was first investigated by the Moore police and then the FBI after being found with the teenager at the Super 8 motel in Moore on 9 March.
According to the federal indictment, on 8 March, the teenager had told Shortey that he needed money for spring break via Kik.
Shortey’s alleged reply was: “I don’t really have any legitimate things I need help with right now. Would you be interested in ‘sexual’ stuff?”
After Doe responded “yes”, the Kik conversation included explicit references to sexual conduct. Shortey then picked up Doe from his house and took him to the motel.
Doe’s father had called the Moore Police Department, reporting that his son Doe was missing and had been seen entering a motel room with an adult male.
The officers who raided the place reported that they found an open box of condoms in Shortey’s backpack and a bottle of lotion in the teenager’s backpack. Both beds were described as unmade.
The victim “confirmed that he and Shortey intended to have sexual contact and that they had agreed Shortey would pay him for the contact”, an FBI agent reported to the court.
According to the deal made by Shortey, he “will not be further prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma for any crimes related to his transportation, possession or production of child pornography or child sex trafficking during the period from October 2013 through 9 March 2017”.
Earlier, Shortey had also faced a child prostitution charge in Cleveland County District Court but the case was dismissed after he was indicted in a federal court.
Source: International Business Times