Arizona State Senator Charged With Child Molestation Steps Down

Arizona State Senator Charged With Child Molestation Steps Down
Arizona state Sen. Tony Navarette is seen in an undated file photograph. (Arizona Legislature)
Zachary Stieber

An Arizona state senator charged with molesting a child resigned on Aug. 10.

State Sen. Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete, a Democrat, tendered his resignation, effective immediately, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, and Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios said.

“This was the right thing to do considering the serious allegations,” Fann and Rios said in a joint statement.

The senators said they were notifying Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and would look to find a replacement for Navarrete. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will select three candidates from the Democratic Party who live in the same district as Navarrete, and Senate leaders will choose from among them, according to local media.

Because of the resignation, Arizona Senate Ethics Chair Sine Kerr said that an ethics complaint against Navarette was dismissed as moot.

Navarrete, 35, was arrested last week and booked on four counts, including molestation of a child and sexual conduct with a minor, jail records show. The sponsor of a bill calling for sex education classes for young children, he said in a statement to news outlets that he denied the allegations.

“I adamantly deny all allegations that have been made and will pursue all avenues in an effort to prove my innocence. In doing so, I will be focusing the vast majority of my time and energy on my defense,” he said.

In a secretly recorded phone call, one of the victims asked Navarette if he regretted touching him, according to court documents.

Navarrete “responded saying of course I regret any bad actions that I did. Absolutely wishing everything could be different,” a probable cause affidavit said.

Navarette then told the victim he “wasn’t well.”

“Otoniel told the victim that nothing he did was his fault. Otoniel said he was regretful,” the affidavit reads.

Democrats and Republicans alike had called for Navarrete to resign after the charges were made public.

Navarrete was released over the weekend on $50,000 bond.

Allan Stein contributed to this report.
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