Arizona state senator Tony Navarrete, a Democrat from Phoenix, was arrested on Thursday on multiple charges including counts of sexual conduct with a minor.
Phoenix police confirmed to news outlet Arizona’s Family that the arrest relates to suspected sexual conduct with a minor in 2019.
Tony Navarrete, a 35-year-old Democrat, now faces multiple counts of sexual misconduct with a child as well as other charges, police said.
Arizona’s ABC 15 also reported that Navarrete was arrested on suspicion of sex crimes, citing “multiple sources.”
The Phoenix Police Department issued a media advisory about the arrest on Thursday which did not name Navarrete.
“On August 4th, 2021, The Phoenix Police Department received a report of sexual conduct with a minor that occurred in 2019,” the police advisory said.
“Detectives interviewed a juvenile victim and witnesses, and on August 5th, developed probable cause to arrest the suspect.”
“The suspect was arrested and is currently in the process of being booked into jail for multiple counts of Sexual Conduct with a minor, among other charges. The suspect’s name and booking number will be provided when the booking process is complete.”
Arizona Senate Democrats issued a statement on Thursday following Navarrete’s arrest but before news broke that it was related to suspect sexual offences.
“We are aware one of our members has been arrested and are awaiting further details and for law enforcement to do its job. We will not have further comment at this time,” the statement said.
Navarrete’s arrest comes just days after he tested positive for COVID-19 in a breakthrough case. The state senator is fully vaccinated but a test on July 27 showed he had contracted the virus.
Writing on Facebook, Tony Navarrete said his “diagnosis is not a death sentence” and urged others to get vaccinated and wear masks: “I know that people are tired and frustrated, but it’s time to mask up again.”
Tony Navarrete is the second Arizona lawmaker to confirm a positive COVID-19 test even after being vaccinated. Rep. Alma Hernandez, a Tucson Democrat, announced her own diagnosis in April, 11 weeks after her vaccination.
Tony Navarrete was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2016 to represent District 30 and was elected to serve in the state senate for District 30 in 2018. He was re-elected in 2020 and is also deputy director of community non-profit group Promise Arizona.
Tony Navarrete accused of 7 felony charges involving sexual conduct with 2 teens
Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner Steve McCarthy set a $50,000 bond and placed numerous restrictions on Navarrete, D-Phoenix, should he be released from jail. The lawmaker made his initial court appearance Friday afternoon.
Before the afternoon was over, Navarrete’s 48 Democratic colleagues in both the House and Senate called on him to resign, and other elected officials joined the chorus asking him to step down.
In the recorded call, monitored by police, Tony Navarrete acknowledged touching the victim’s penis and performing oral sex on the youth multiple times over several years, according to documents released by Maricopa County Superior Court.
Tony Navarette told the youth he regretted his actions, knew they were wrong and repeatedly told the youth that the young man was not at fault for any of the interactions.
“Of course, I regret any bad actions that I did, absolutely wishing everything could be different. I’m sorry, mijo,” Navarrete was quoted as saying in the phone call. It appears he was not aware that police were listening in.
In the phone call, the victim, now age 16, confronted Tony Navarrete, asking why he touched his penis. Navarrete told him he wasn’t well, records show. He repeatedly expressed regret for his actions, which reportedly occurred at Navarrete’s home and have caused anger and anxiety issues for the youth.
“Otoniel told him he is sorry he has to go through all this pain, not deserving it,” according to the narrative of the phone call.
Police are recommending seven felony charges against Navarette involving four offenses:
- Three counts of sexual conduct with a minor and one count of molestation of a child, punishable as Class 2 felonies because the alleged victim was under age 15.
- Two counts of sexual conduct with a minor, punishable as Class 6 felonies because the alleged victim was age 15 or older.
- One count of attempted sexual conduct with a minor, punishable as a Class 3 felony.
Democrats call for resignation
Even as the initial appearance was happening in court, calls for Navarrete’s resignation started to come in from fellow Democrats.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman was among the first, acknowledging that he is innocent until proven otherwise, but said resignation is in order.
“We must hold our elected leaders to the highest standards,” she said in a Twitter post.
The state Legislature’s LGBTQ Caucus, of which Tony Navarette is a member, echoed the resignation call and expressed remorse for the victims of abuse.
“My heart is broken. I am furious,” said Rep. César Chávez, D-Phoenix, the caucus chairman. “If these charges are sustained and proven, it is a betrayal of trust that cannot be overlooked or ignored. Children deserve better. I implore the courts to make sure that every perpetrator of sexual crimes be removed from society and punished to the full extent of the law.”
All 48 Democrats in the Legislature called for Tony Navarrete to resign his seat, which covers a broad swath of west-central Phoenix and parts of Glendale.
(Source: AZ Central)