Arizona state Senator Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete (D) of Phoenix, an openly gay politician, was arrested on Thursday over allegations that he sexually assaulted two teenage brothers over a period of time, beginning in 2019, The Blaze reported.
Navarrete, 35, was accused of having sexual conduct with a minor, local law enforcement officials reported. One of his victims said that Navarrete touched him inappropriately and performed sex acts on him more than five times while he was between the ages of 12 or 13 and 15-years-old.
Police noted that they have a recording of Navarrete admitting to the criminal acts against the boys, stemming from a phone conversation with one of the boys that was recorded without the senator’s knowledge.
“Of course, I regret any bad actions that I did, absolutely wishing everything could be different. I’m sorry, mijo,” Navarrete reportedly said on the call.
Navarrete said he was “not well” when the boy, now 16, asked him during the conversation why he touched his penis.
The state senator made his first court appearance electronically because he was infected with COVID-19, even though he was previously vaccinated.
The judge ordered a $50,000 bond for Navarrete and said the state senator would also be required to surrender his passport. A total of seven felony charges were recommended in the case, including three counts of sexual conduct with a minor and one count of molestation of a child.
Many of Navarrete’s Democratic colleagues have begun to call for his resignation after the allegations became public.
Calls for resignation
“In light of these disturbing charges, House and Senate Democrats are calling on Senator Navarrete to resign immediately. Abuse of this kind is intolerable and our hearts go out to the victims,” a statement from Arizona House Democrats read.
“Although every person is granted the right to a fair trial, we believe that it is in the best interest of the residents in Legislative District 30 that Sen. Navarrete resign immediately,” the Young Democrats of Arizona also said in a statement.
Navarrete, who has been an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump, could face a minimum mandatory sentence of 49 years in prison if convicted on all of the charges against him, as the Arizona Capitol Times reported.
Arizona law states that any elected official who is convicted of a felony automatically vacates his or her elected position.