Crime

Democratic Lawmaker Tony Navarrete Arrested for Allegedly Abusing Boy for Years

State Senator Tony Navarrete (lower right) at his initial appearance hearing today.
State Senator Tony Navarrete (lower right) at his initial appearance hearing today. Screenshot via Maricopa County Superior Court
Arizona Democrats are calling on state Senator Otoniel "Tony" Navarrete, also a Democrat, to resign after court records revealed shocking new allegations that he sexually abused a boy for years.

Navarrete, who is 35 years old, has represented west Phoenix in the state Senate since he was first elected in 2018; he previously served in the Arizona House of Representatives. He was reelected to his senate seat in the November 2020 election.

The lawmaker's arrest stemmed from a report that the Phoenix Police Department received on August 4. A 16-year-old boy told police that Navarrete sexually abused him over several years in a home in Phoenix, court records state.

During the first incident, the boy claimed that Navarrete touched his penis underneath his pants; the victim said that he was 12 or 13 years old at the time. On a different occasion, when the boy was 14 years old, he was sleeping next to Navarrete when he woke up and saw that Navarrete was touching the boy's penis. This went on for a "extended period of time" before Navarrete performed oral sex on the boy, who said that he was shaking. The victim tried to get up and go to the bathroom, prompting Navarrete to say, "Oh I shouldn't be doing this, this is wrong."

The victim also alleges that when he was 14, a similar incident occurred: Navarrete allegedly touched the victim's penis while he was sleeping, causing him to wake up.

In a fourth incident that took place when the boy was 15 years old, the boy was once again sleeping when Navarrete "laid down next to him," touched his penis, and performed oral sex on him. Navarrete eventually stopped and continued laying next to the victim with his hand "underneath the victims pants [sic]"; the victim told police that he was "fearful" and unsure of what to do" at the time.

The abuse left the 16-year-old boy suffering from "anxiety and anger issues," the records state.

Police also identified another alleged victim after interviewing the 16-year-old boy. During an August 5 interview, the first victim's 13-year-old brother said that on one occasion that Navarrete had put his hand on the "inner portion of his leg underneath his shorts" and "got close" to his penis. The boy "slapped" Navarette's hand and he "immediately" got up.

click to enlarge Otoniel "Tony" Navarrete - MCSO MUGSHOT
Otoniel "Tony" Navarrete
MCSO mugshot
The same day that police interviewed the second victim, they orchestrated a recorded phone call between the 16-year-old boy and Navarrete. The boy asked Navarrete why he touched his penis and Navarrete allegedly said that he "wasn't well" and that he is "regretful and not happy" about his actions. He also allegedly told the victim that he is "sorry he has to go through all this pain," that the incident "should not have happened," and "I'm sorry Mijo."

At around 6:45 p.m. yesterday, Phoenix police officers arrested Navarrete at his home in Phoenix "without incident." He was booked into jail on one count of attempted sexual conduct with a minor, one count of molestation of a child, three counts of sexual conduct with a minor, and two counts of sexual conduct with a minor — all felonies.

During an initial appearance hearing today, Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner Steven McCarthy ordered a $50,000 secured bond for Navarrete, who was still in custody.

After news of Navarrete's arrest broke last night, Democratic lawmakers expressed concern but stopped short of calling for him to resign. In a statement issued this morning, Senate Democrats said that they were "deeply disturbed" by Navarrete's arrest and that it is "important to allow for due process to take place in our judicial system." House Democrats released a similar statement around the same time.

But after Navarrete's first appearance hearing, both caucuses openly called for his resignation in a joint statement.

"The circumstances and serious nature of the felony charges faced by Senator Navarrete provide an untenable distraction from his role as an elected official and public servant for District 30," the joint statement reads. "Abuse of this kind is intolerable and our hearts go out to the victims. He should do the right thing for all involved and immediately resign from the Legislature."

The Arizona Democratic Party also issued a statement calling for his "immediate resignation," while Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and Superintendent Kathy Hoffman, both of whom are Democrats, posted statements on Twitter making similar demands.

Governor Doug Ducey also weighed in on Twitter, describing the allegations as "abhorrent" and calling for Navarrate to resign.
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Josh Kelety is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Inlander and Seattle Weekly.
Contact: Josh Kelety