PHOENIX (AP) - An ex-Arizona state senator who was arrested on child molestation charges has been indicted, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.
The indictment charges Tony Navarrete with six felony counts related to sexual contact he’s accused of having with a boy. He’s charged with one count for alleged contact with a second boy.
Navarrete pled not guilty to charges on Friday. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 1.
Navarrete once served as Arizona State Senator
Navarrete was a Democratic lawmaker who represented parts of west Phoenix and Glendale. He resigned from the Senate on Aug. 10.
In a statement, Navarrete acknowledged that "serious allegations" have been made against him, but denied the allegations.
In the same statement, Navarrete said he will spend "the vast majority" of his time and energy on his defense, and admits it will be impossible to give those who were then his constituents the full attention they deserve.
"While I would love nothing more than to continue to serve the families of Arizona’s 30th District, I worry it will be impossible to give my constituents the full attention they deserve. Therefore, I must resign my post as Arizona State Senator," Navarrete added.
Court documents detail extent of alleged sexual abuse
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 first victim, a now-16-year-old boy, told Phoenix Police detectives that Navarrete molested him starting when he was 12 or 13 years old and continued until he was 15. A police probable cause statement said he admitted the crimes in phone call with the boy recorded by police.
A police probable cause statement filed in support of the charges says detectives recorded a call between the boy and Navarrete, where he reportedly acknowledged the molestation and apologized.
In a phone call recorded by police, 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.
Navarrete was released from jail on Aug. 8 on a $50,000 bond. Prosecutors said if Navarrete is convicted of all charges, he faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 49 years.
Navarrete was arraigned on Aug. 20, where he entered a not guilty plea. He is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 1.
Replacement to be named by Maricopa County
As a result of the vacancy created by Navarrete's resignation, a replacement from the same party will be chosen by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
Normally, local Democratic Party officials would vet candidates, but since there are fewer than the required number of elected precinct committeemen in the district, a citizen’s committee will be chosen by the board to draw up a list of three candidates for supervisors to choose from.
According to a statement released by Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo, the citizen's panel will be appointed within seven business days, and the three candidates will be submitted to the Board of Supervisors within the 21 days that follow.
"I will work with my colleagues to form the citizen panel before the deadline, and we will collect cover letters and resumes from qualified applicants through the Clerk of the Board," read a portion of the statement released by Gallardo.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.
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