On January 1, 2019, former Oklahoma State Senator Ralph Shortey, who is serving 15 years in federal prison for child sex trafficking, was ordered to pay more than $125,000 in restitution to his victim. Such restitution will be used to pay for psychiatric and psychological care for the young victim. Prosecutors argued for an additional $410,000 in restitution as the victim was unable to complete high school, largely due to the psychological trauma caused by the defendant. The judge, however, denied this request. Shortey’s attorney has reportedly stated that he will not be appealing the restitution order.
Shortey pled guilty to child sex trafficking after being found in a motel room with a seventeen year old boy, who he offered to pay for “sexual” stuff. During the investigation, it has been reported that the FBI found that Shortey had used aliases to send and receive child pornography and that he went on Craigslist seeking casual encounters with young boys – “the younger the better.”
The CSE Institute is glad that Shortey is being held accountable for his despicable actions in trafficking a young boy, and that he will be required to pay restitution to the victim. It appears that Shortey may have taken advantage of his prominent government position in order to engage in the trafficking of his victim, as The Hill reports that Shortey said in a message to the victim “I don’t really have any legitimate things I need help with right now,” and “[w]ould you be interested in ‘sexual’ stuff?” Men in positions of power remain a primary source of demand in commercial sexual exploitation. The utilization of power dynamics by sex buyers in commercial sexual exploitation further serves to illustrate the inherent differences of power and privilege in the commercial sex industry, and is something that should be addressed by ensuring that sex buyers and traffickers are held accountable for their actions.
The CSE Institute previously reported on this here.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or Villanova University.