Arizona State Sen. Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete, 35, was arrested last Thursday night and faces seven felony charges related to alleged sexual conduct with two teenage boys. If convicted, he could be sentenced to a minimum of 49 years in prison.
Navarrete, a Democrat, is one of a handful of openly LGBTQ Arizona legislators and serves as a member of the LGBTQ Caucus. Members of the caucus, like Rep. Daniel Hernandez, have called on Navarrete to resign, as well as Navarrete’s 48 Democratic colleagues in both the House and Senate.
Republicans also joined in the chorus asking Navarrete to step down. Gov. Doug Ducey said in a tweet that the allegations made against Navarrete “are abhorrent.”
Phoenix police closed in on Navarrete after receiving a complaint on Aug. 4 about allegations of incidents involving sexual misconduct starting in 2019. According to a probable cause statement, police interviewed the alleged victims and then had one of them call Navarrete. While on the phone with the 16-year-old accuser, Navarrete allegedly admitted to touching the boy’s penis and performing oral sex on him. The child previously lived with Navarrete and the abuse allegedly began when the boy was 13.
Sen. Navarrete should resign immediately. These allegations are abhorrent. My prayers are with the young victims and their loved ones during this traumatic time. https://t.co/cX0k2OTdsu
— Doug Ducey (@DougDucey) August 7, 2021
Navarrete expressed regret and said he was not well when the abuse allegedly occurred.
“Of course, I regret any bad actions that I did, absolutely wishing everything could be different. I’m sorry, mijo,” Navarrete was quoted saying in the phone call. It appears he was not aware that police were listening in.
The boy says he now suffers anxiety and depression as a result of the alleged abuse.
With the second boy, Navarrete reportedly put his hand under the child’s shorts and tried to touch his thigh, but the minor allegedly rejected the lawmaker’s advances.
Officers arrested Navarrete at his home without incident. A judge set a $50,000 bond and placed numerous restrictions on Navarrete if he bonds himself out of prison before his trial. A preliminary hearing on the case is scheduled for August 16. Navarrete has not yet entered a plea on the charges.
— Brahm Resnik (@brahmresnik) August 6, 2021
According to The Arizona Republic, Navarrete’s attorney, Roland Rillos, said, “We have no public comment at this time but want to emphasize the importance of the presumption of innocence in this case.”
Navarrete was elected to Arizona’s House of Representatives in 2016, and elected to the state Senate two years later. He was re-elected in 2020. The politician represents District 30 in the northwest Phoenix suburbs.