Shortey resigns from State Senate amid child prostitution investigation

State Sen. Ralph Shortey turned himself in to the Cleveland County Detention Center March 16 on complaints of child prostitution. (Cleveland County Sheriff's Office)

An Oklahoma Senator accused of engaging in child prostitution has resigned his seat.

State Senator Ralph Shortey announced his resignation March 22, six days after he was charged with engaging in child prostitution in Cleveland County.

In his resignation letter, Shortey thanked the constituents of Senate District 44 for "the opportunity they provided to serve".

"Because I take the responsibility seriously, I recognize that the charges against me are a distraction to their interest and the remaining legislative session," Shortey said.

Shortey said the resignation is "evidence of my respect for public service and the duties of our elected officials".

"I ask respect for the privacy of my family - my wife and four daughters - as I defend myself of these charges," Shortey said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz said he has accepted Shortey's resignation letter.

"To ensure justice is not impeded, the Oklahoma Senate will continue to cooperate with all authorities looking into this matter. My thoughts and prayers have been, and will continue to be with, all those involved in this tragic situation," Schulz said in a statement.

Oklahoma Senate Democratic leader Sen. John Sparks said his group was glad Shortey had submitted his resignation.

"The people of Senate District 44 deserve a senator they can rely on and respect. They deserve to replace him with a senator who will be focused on the needs and concerns of southwest Oklahoma City as quickly as possible," Sparks said.

On March 16, Shortey turned himself in to the Cleveland County Detention Center on complaints of Engaging in Child Prostitution, Engaging in Prostitution within 1000 feet of a church and Transporting a Minor for Prostitution/Lewdness.

Court records show on March 9 Moore police made contact with Shortey at the Super 8 Hotel on N. I-35 Service Road. Shortey was inside the hotel room alone with a 17-year-old male.

Officers smelled a strong odor of marijuana in the room and found a container with a small amount of the drug inside. Police also found an open box of condoms and a bottle of lotion in Shortey's backpack inside the room.

Court documents show officers learned of a conversation between Shortey and the juvenile on the messaging app "Kik". Police determined Shortey used the alias "Jamie Tilley" and the username "Brinokc4u" during the conversation.

Related: Senate GOP leaders brush off questions about growing Senate sex scandal

The 35-year-old was suspended from the Senate on March 15 for "disorderly behavior". Governor Mary Fallin must now call for a special election to fill Shortey's vacant District 44 seat. Oklahoma City attorney Michael Brooks-Jimenez has already stated that he would run for the seat.

On Monday, the Secret Service confirmed they were assisting in the Shortey investigation.

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