State Sen. Tony Navarrete arrested for child sex crimes, lawmakers demand resignation
PHOENIX - The Arizona governor and Democratic lawmakers called Friday for state Sen. Tony Navarrete to resign after he was accused of sexually abusing a boy and attempting to abuse another.
Navarrete, 35, is accused of repeatedly abusing a boy with whom he was living over a period of several years, according to court records. The boy, now 16, told detectives that Navarrete touched his genitals with his hands and mouth, starting when he was around 12 or 13 and continuing through his 15th birthday. The teen said he suffers from anxiety and anger that stems from the abuse.
In a phone call recorded by police on Thursday afternoon, Navarrete apologized to the teen, saying he regretted his actions and would have to live with them for the rest of his life, according to the court records. When asked why he did it, he told the boy he "wasn’t well," detectives wrote.
The teen’s younger brother, now 13, told police that Navarrete touched his upper leg inside his shorts, causing the boy to slap away the hand and get up, detectives wrote in a probable cause affidavit filed in court.
Navarrete made an initial appearance in court Friday and did not enter a plea on the charges, which include child molestation and sexual contact with a minor. He appeared by video from jail, most of the time holding an iPad so that only his forehead could be seen.
Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner Steve McCarthy set the $50,000 bond requested by prosecutor Jeanine Sorrentino. Sorrentino said Navarrete faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 49 years if he’s convicted of all charges.
Defense attorney for Navarrete, Roland Rillos, requested a $15,000 bond, saying Navarrete has no prior criminal history and is not a flight risk. Navarrete was jailed and could not be reached for comment.
McCarthy also ordered Navarrete to surrender his passport and avoid contact with all minors if he’s released.
The Senate Democrats released a statement that read:
"Right now, it’s important to allow for due process to take place through our judicial system," the statement continued. "We are closely monitoring the situation and are anxious for the facts of this ongoing investigation to be revealed. At this point we do not have any details surrounding this ongoing case and we will refrain from further comment."
No further information was made available about the arrest.
On Tuesday, Navarrete confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, and he was recovering with mild symptoms at home.
Navarrete was first elected as the State Representative for Arizona's 30th District in 2016. In 2018 he was elected to serve as the district's state senator. He is also the Deputy Director of Promise Arizona, a non-profit.
The legislator is serving his second term in the Senate after serving one term in the House.
The Arizona Legislature is not in session. Lawmakers finished their 2021 regular session in late June and, unless a special session is called, will next convene in January for the 2020 regular session.
Lawmakers react, Democrats demand Navarrete's resignation
The Arizona governor and Democratic lawmakers called Friday for state Sen. Tony Navarrete to resign after he was charged with sexually abusing a boy and attempting to abuse another.
The Arizona Democratic Party released a statement saying, "While everyone in this country is entitled to a fair trial, elected officials must be held to the highest ethical standards. Given the gravity of the felony charges against State Senator Tony Navarrete, the Arizona Democratic Party is calling for his immediate resignation."
Other groups calling for his resignation are the Arizona House and Senate Democratic Caucuses and the Arizona LGBTQ Legislative Caucus.
Below is a list of lawmakers' and groups' statements demanding Navarrete's resignation:
Governor Doug Ducey
"Sen. Navarrete should resign immediately. These allegations are abhorrent. My prayers are with the young victims and their loved ones during this traumatic time."
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs
"These are incredibly disturbing allegations. Senator Navarrete should resign immediately."
Superintendent Kathy Hoffman
"These are deeply disturbing charges, and while everyone is innocent until proven guilty, Senator Navarrete needs to resign. We must hold our elected leaders to the highest standards."
Senate President Sen. Karen Fann
"Given the information documented in the findings of probable cause released by authorities, I am awaiting Senator Navarrete's immediate resignation. These are serious and alarming charges that require Senator Navarrete to step down immediately. Our hearts are with the victims; child abuse and sexual misconduct are intolerable in every circumstance. We have confidence in our criminal system and pray that due justice will aid in the long road to healing for those involved."
Congressman Greg Stanton
"The 7 felony charges against State Senator Navarrete are horrifying. He should resign immediately."
Congressman Ruben Gallego
"In light of this evidence, Sen. Navarrete needs to resign."
"Like many, we are horrified by the details now emerging of allegations against Senator Tony Navarrete, and we are calling on him to immediately resign his position as an elected official representing Legislative District 30.
Tony Navarrete (Arizona State Legislature)
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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