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Oklahoma senator resigns to fight charges of hiring boy prostitute

By Jon Herskovitz

(Reuters) - An Oklahoma state senator accused of hiring a 17-year-old boy as a prostitute submitted his resignation on Wednesday, saying felony charges against him have become a distraction and he will defend himself against them.

Republican Ralph Shortey, 35, a gun rights advocate who has campaigned as a champion of family values, made his first statement about the charges since police said they found him on March 9 in a suburban Oklahoma City motel with the teenage boy and drugs.

"My resignation is evidence of my respect for public service and the duties of our elected officials," he said in a statement.

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Governor Mary Fallin and other Republican leaders in Oklahoma called on Shortey to resign last week after he was charged with three felony counts, including engaging in child prostitution.

Shortly after he announced his resignation, his name was removed from an Oklahoma Senate website listing members.

Shortey, who was first elected state senator in 2010, thanked his constituents and asked for privacy for his wife and four daughters. He said in the statement that he submitted his resignation, effective immediately, to Republican Governor Mary Fallin and the president pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate.

"I recognize that the charges against me are a distraction to their (constituents') interests and the remaining legislative session, which should serve all Oklahomans," he said in a statement.

According to an arrest affidavit of the motel incident: "Officers present observed a strong odor of marijuana coming from the room and inside the room at the time of their contact with the defendant," the documents said, adding police also found an opened box of condoms in Shortey's backpack.

Shortey was booked at a local jail last Thursday, a few hours after he was charged. His bond has been set at $100,000 and he was released about two hours after he surrendered.

Shortey made national news in 2012 when he introduced a bill prohibiting the manufacture and sale of food or products that use aborted human fetuses. He provided no evidence to show that such a practice was actually taking place and there are no known food products that contain aborted fetuses.

The bill did not become law.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by David Gregorio)