US & Canada

Oklahoma state senator 'to quit' over motel child sex charge

Senator Shortey is free on bond, pending his trial for child prostitution Image copyright AP
Image caption Senator Shortey is free on bond, pending his trial for child prostitution

An Oklahoma state senator will bow to calls to resign after he was charged this month with several counts of child prostitution, his lawyer says.

Senator Ralph Shortey has been facing calls to quit since when he was caught with a 17-year-old boy in a motel in Moore on 9 March.

The FBI and Secret Service have joined in the investigation, and Mr Shortey's home was searched on Friday.

The married father remains a salaried, voting member of the state legislature.

Mr Shortey will resign on Wednesday, says his attorney Ed Blau.

But even if found guilty of the child sex charges, he will still be eligible to collect his state retirement package.

Image copyright AP
Image caption During the presidential primaries, Shortey served as Donald Trump's state chairman

Last week the Oklahoma Senate voted unanimously to strip the 35-year-old of his privileges, including his office, his assistant and his parking spot.

But Mr Shortey, who was first elected in 2010, is still able to vote on bills, unless he is formally expelled by his colleagues, or is convicted of a serious crime.

After a closed-door meeting on Monday, lawmakers said they were considering additional actions to remove the Oklahoma City Republican from the statehouse.

Senate president pro tempore Mike Schulz said on Monday afternoon the chamber "reserves the right to take further action as necessary" and "continues to explore the options available".

Unless he steps down, is convicted or expelled, Mr Shortey will continue to draw his $38,400 (£30,760) annual salary.

Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn charged Mr Shortey last week with engaging in child prostitution, engaging in prostitution within 1,000ft (300 metres) of a church and transporting a minor for prostitution.

According to Moore police, Mr Shortey was arrested at a Super 8 motel room that smelled heavily of marijuana.

Investigators said they found the boy's Kindle Fire tablet and obtained a search warrant for it.

Police say Mr Shortey had exchanged text messages with the boy, at one point asking if he would "be interested in sexual stuff".

Mr Shortey was found with an unopened package of condoms when he was arrested, police reports indicate.