Sen. Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete of Arizona was arrested Thursday night and faces seven felony charges related to alleged sexual encounters with one boy and another attempted sexual encounter with another underage male.
Navarrete, a Democrat, is one of a handful of openly gay legislators in Arizona and serves as a member of the legislature’s LGBTQ Caucus. Members of the caucus, like Rep. Daniel Hernandez, have called on Navarrete to resign, and all 48 Democratic state legislators have done the same. “Abuse of this kind is intolerable and our hearts go out to the victims,” Arizona Senate Democrats said in a statement.
Police closed in on Navarrete, 35, after listening in on a phone call between him and a 16-year-old accuser. On the call, Navarrete allegedly admitted to touching the boy’s penis and performing oral sex on him. The child previously lived with Navarrete and the abuse allegedly began when the boy was 13. Navarrete expressed regret and said he was not well when the abuse allegedly occurred; the boy says he now suffers anxiety and depression as a result of the alleged abuse.
Police are aware of a separate alleged encounter between Navarrete and another boy, where the lawmaker reportedly put his hand under the child’s shorts and tried to touch his thigh. The minor allegedly rejected the advances.
The judge set a $50,000 bond and placed numerous restrictions on Navarrete if he bonds himself out of prison before his trial. A preliminary hearing on the case is scheduled for August 16.
Navarrete announced on social media this week that he tested positive for COVID-19.
Navarrete was elected to Arizona’s House of Representatives in 2016, elected to the state Senate two years later, and reelected in 2020. The politician represents District 30 in the northwest Phoenix suburbs.