Politics

Arizona lawmakers demand senator linked to sex with minor resign

The Arizona Democratic Party has called for the immediate resignation of a rising star Phoenix Democrat after he was arrested and charged with sexual misconduct with a minor. 

State Sen. Tony Navarrete, 35, was charged this week with sexually abusing a boy for years and attempting to abuse another. 

“While everyone in this country is entitled to a fair trial, elected officials must be held to the highest ethical standards,” the Arizona Democratic Party said in a statement Friday. “Given the gravity of the felony charges against State Senator Tony Navarrete, the Arizona Democratic Party is calling for his immediate resignation.”

Navarrete, who represents a west Phoenix district, was a rising star in the Democratic Party and was considered a likely candidate for statewide office, perhaps as soon as 2022. He is serving his second term in the state Senate after one term in the House.

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His Democratic colleagues in the state House and Senate called the charges against Navarrete “disturbing” and also urged him to resign. 

“Abuse of this kind is intolerable and our hearts go out to the victims,” the legislative Democrats said in a joint statement. 

Navarrete appeared in court by a video feed from jail on Friday where his bond was set at $50,000. 

He is accused of repeatedly abusing a boy with whom he was living over a period of several years, according to court records. The boy, now 16, told detectives that Navarrete touched his genitals with his hands and mouth, starting when he was around 12 or 13 and continuing through his 15th birthday. The teen said he suffers from anxiety and anger that stems from the abuse.

Tony Navarrete (Arizona State Legislature)

Tony Navarrete (Arizona State Legislature)

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In a phone call recorded by police on Thursday afternoon, Navarrete apologized to the teen, saying he regretted his actions and would have to live with them for the rest of his life, according to the court records. When asked why he did it, he told the boy he “wasn’t well,” detectives wrote.

The teen’s younger brother, now 13, told police that Navarrete touched his upper leg inside his shorts, causing the boy to slap away the hand and get up, detectives wrote in a probable cause affidavit filed in court.

Arizona’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, has also called for Navarrete to step down immediately.

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“These allegations are abhorrent,” Ducey tweeted. “My prayers are with the young victims and their loved ones during this traumatic time.”

If convicted of all charges, Navarrete could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 49 years behind bars.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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