Arizona state Sen. Tony Navarette resigns amid child sexual abuse allegations
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An Arizona lawmaker accused of child sexual abuse has resigned, but vows to fight the allegations and prove his innocence.
State Sen. Otoniel “Tony” Navarette, D-Phoenix, stepped down Tuesday following his arrest Thursday on seven felony charges related to child sex abuse involving two teenagers, the Arizona Republic reported.
Navarette, 35, was charged after a 16-year-old boy told Phoenix cops the lawmaker started molesting him in 2019. A 13-year-old boy also accused Navarette of attempted sexual conduct, the newspaper reported.
In a phone call monitored by police, Navarette acknowledged touching the 16-year-old boy’s penis and performing oral sex on him multiple times over several years, a probable cause statement shows.
“Of course, I regret any bad actions that I did, absolutely wishing everything could be different,” Navarette said on the call, police said. “I’m sorry, mijo.”
Navarette told the victim he was “not well” when asked by the teen why he molested him at the lawmaker’s home, police said.
“Otoniel told him he is sorry he has to go through all this pain, not deserving it,” investigators said of the call that Navarette apparently didn’t know was being recorded.
Navarette, who was arrested at his home, attended his initial court appearance remotely on Friday.
“We have no public comment at this time but want to emphasize the importance of the presumption of innocence in this case,” Navarette’s attorney, Roland Rillos, told reporters outside court.
Navarette’s bond was set at $50,000 amid calls for his resignation from the state’s Republican governor and his Democratic colleagues in both the House and Senate, the Arizona Republic reported.
“Sen. Navarette should resign immediately,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted late Thursday. “These allegations are abhorrent. My prayers are with the young victims and their loved ones during this traumatic time.”
Navarette said Tuesday he stepped down effective immediately to focus on his defense against the accusations.
“I adamantly deny all allegations that have been made and will pursue all avenues in an effort to prove my innocence,” he wrote.
Navarette, a former state representative, was elected as a state senator in 2018 and was reelected last fall. He was released from jail Saturday and was ordered to wear an electronic monitor ahead of his status conference in the case set for Thursday.
If convicted on all charges, Navarette faces a minimum of 49 years in prison, the Arizona Republic reported.
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