OKLAHOMA CITY — At least two people knew about child pornography on former Republican state Sen. Ralph Shortey’s computer at the Oklahoma Capitol, but failed to disclose that information to authorities until years later after police reportedly found Shortey in a motel room with a 17-year-old boy, according to newly released court records.

The application for a search warrant unsealed last week in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City shows a worker on Shortey’s campaign three years ago “inadvertently observed child pornography contained in a folder on Shortey’s computer in the Capitol building.” The campaign aide reported that finding to an individual who didn’t come forward until it was revealed that Shortey was under investigation for an incident with the teenager in a motel room in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.

Neither person was identified in the application, which was used to obtain a warrant to search Shortey’s computer and office at the state Capitol. Court documents show the FBI seized a CD-ROM and a memory card from Shortey’s office.

It’s not clear whether either the campaign aide or the person the aide told could face criminal charges.

“I don’t really have an answer for you,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Williams, chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma.

Federal law requires a person with knowledge of the commission of a felony to report that information to authorities, but that law “requires some act of concealment on the part of the defendant,” Williams said.

A similar Oklahoma law applies only to commercial film or photo print processors or computer technicians who discover child pornography in the course of their employment.

“It doesn’t sound like that would be criminal, although it’s immoral that they didn’t report it,” said Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater. “For the life of me, I’m not exactly sure why someone wouldn’t report that.”

Shortey, a married father of four who resigned in March, has been charged in federal court with child sex trafficking and producing and transporting child pornography, and has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.


Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy