NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Dog the Bounty Hunter thought he'd seen it all until this Oklahoma politician got charged

Duane Lee "Dog" Chapman [HLN]
Duane Lee "Dog" Chapman [HLN]

In a CNN interview airing Sunday, reality TV star Duane Lee "Dog" Chapman talks about being fooled by his friend, Ralph Shortey, a former state senator now in prison for child sex trafficking.

"We hit it off," said Chapman, who first became widely known from the A&E show, "Dog the Bounty Hunter."

The two became acquainted after Shortey, an Oklahoma City Republican, introduced legislation to regulate bounty hunting.

"I started calling him 'governor,'" Chapman said. "Because I could see Ralph Shortey had that quality, that kind of quality.

"Everyone loved Ralph Shortey in Oklahoma. He got elected, landslide, right? Even Democrats came to me and said, 'Hey, you know even though he's a Republican we're voting for Ralph.'"

Chapman spoke last year about their friendship for the CNN true-crime documentary series, "Lies, Crimes & Videos." Airing Sunday on CNN Headline News (HLN) is an episode on Shortey's downfall after Moore police caught him in a hotel room with a 17-year-old boy on March 9, 2017.

Shortey is serving 15 years in a federal prison in Texas for the sexual tryst that was considered illegal because he had offered to pay for it. He resigned from the Senate in disgrace on March 22, 2017.

A further investigation discovered the married conservative had been using fake names for at least five years to send and receive child pornography. He also had used pseudonyms to go online on Craigslist to seek casual encounters with males, the "younger the better."

"I was completely astonished. The man that did that, I don't know, didn't know and don't want to know," Chapman said. "I've arrested 8,000 people in my 40 years and I thought I'd seen it all until Sen. Ralph Shortey. ... I saw the evidence. Oh my God, what do you say?"

Shortey pleaded guilty in Oklahoma City federal court in November 2017 to child sex trafficking. A judge sentenced him in September 2018 after he tearfully apologized for "leading a double life of sin for the past few years."

Police went to the Super 8 hotel in Moore at the request of the victim's father. The then-teenager's girlfriend had followed Shortey to the hotel and notified the father.

The two first met in 2016 after Shortey responded to the victim's "casual encounters" ad on Craigslist. They had met for sex before, at Shortey's coffee shop, prosecutors said. The victim knew Shortey by the pseudonym, "Jamie Tilley."

Before meeting at the hotel, the victim wrote Shortey on a messaging app, “I need money for spring break," according to the evidence. Shortey replied on the Kik app, "I don't really have any legitimate things I need help with right now. Would you be interested in 'sexual' stuff?"

The victim then wrote, "Yes."

The victim later told the FBI they had smoked marijuana, undressed and just started fooling around when police officers knocked on the hotel door.

In 2013, Shortey told The Oklahoman that he had spent time with "Dog" and his team in Oklahoma City.

"We are blessed to have their input on establishing regulations for their industry. I count it an honor to call them my friends and look forward to working with them in the future," Shortey wrote.

Shortey appeared in 2013 on "Dog and Beth: On the Hunt," a CMT show about Chapman and his late wife.

Nolan Clay

Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,... Read more ›