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Former Oklahoma GOP lawmaker to plead guilty to sex trafficking of teen he called 'baby boy

Former Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey will plead guilty to sex trafficking charge. (Image source: KFOR-TV video screenshot)

Former Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey (R) will plead guilty in a federal court to one count of child sex trafficking, KCCI-TV reported.

Charges stemming from an incident earlier this year led to the Republican lawmaker's federal indictment. A federal court charged Shortey with two counts of child pornography, one count of producing child pornography and one count of child sex trafficking.

Ed Blau, the lawyer representing Shortey, told KCCI Saturday that the guilty plea is in exchange for dropping the other three counts.

Shortey faces a sentence of 10 years to life in prison. His sentencing hearing will be in early 2018, according to Newsweek.

What happened?

In the early morning hours on March 9, Moore Police Department officers acted on a tip to conduct a welfare check on a boy seen going into a Super 8 Motel room with an adult male, the Associated Press reported. Police smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from the room, and inside they found then-Sen. Shortey and the 17-year-old.

The age of consent is 16 in Oklahoma, but the state's child prostitution statutes apply to anyone under 18, the AP reported.

Backpacks found in the motel room contained lotion, an open box of condoms, and a laptop computer.

Officers also found and searched the teen’s Kindle tablet and uncovered a series of sexually explicit exchanges using the messenger app "Kik." The conversation started with the juvenile telling Shortey he needed "money for spring break."

In the messages, Shortey referred to the teenager as "baby boy."

The 35-year-old Shortey offered the boy cash in exchange for “sexual stuff” to which the teen agreed.

Shortey and the teen both told police they met through Craigslist about a year earlier.

The married then-senator surrendered to police on charges of engaging in child prostitution, transporting a minor for prostitution and engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church, the AP reported. He was released on a $100,000 bond.

The two charges of transportation of child pornography are from "allegations that Shortey sent videos of a 'prepubescent girl,' along with videos of young boys, from his email address in October 2013," according to Newsweek.

Shortey allegedly convinced a minor to send him an inappropriate photo which led to the production of a child pornography charge.

Is there anything else?

The two-term former senator left his seat March 22, following calls from Oklahoma's state leaders for him to resign.

First elected in 2010, Shortey ran his campaign on a "family values" platform. He is a father of four.

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