Arizona state Sen. Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete has resigned after being arrested for allegedly molesting two young boys.
The Democrat, who has served in the state Senate since 2018, faces seven felony charges after a 16-year-old accused Navarrete of molesting him multiple times. A second boy, 13, also accused Navarrete of attempting to touch his genitals.
Navarrete, 35, denies the allegations, but sent a statement to supporters last week saying he was stepping down in order to “pursue all avenues in an effort to prove my innocence” and focus “the vast majority of my time and energy on my defense.”
Police arrested Navarrete on Aug. 5 after recording a call between the lawmaker and the 16-year-old accuser.
After the teen asked Navarrete why he had molested him multiple times between the ages of 12 or 13 and 15, Navarrete allegedly apologized, saying he “wasn’t well” and adding, “I’m sorry, mijo,” according to the Washington Post.
“I regret any bad actions that I did, absolutely wishing everything could be different,” he allegedly told the youth.
The second youth, aged 13, was interviewed by police on Aug. 5 and accused Navarrete of trying to touch his genitals.
Later that evening, Navarette was arrested. He now faces seven felony charges related to the accusations, including sexual conduct with a minor and molestation of a minor.
He was released from jail on Saturday, Aug. 7, on a $50,000 bond. If convicted on all charges, Navarette faces at least 49 years in prison.
In a joint statement, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R) and Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios said Navarrete’s resignation was “the right thing to do considering the serious allegations.” It came after lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had called for him to step down.
“We know that the Arizona Judicial Branch will deliver justice and pray for healing and support for all victims,” the statement continued.
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