By Terri Jo Neff
The arrest of Arizona Sen. Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete (D-LD30) on multiple charges of sexual misconduct with minors has led to demands for his resignation, and many of those making the statements are including information about hotlines for victims of abuse.
Navarrete was taken into custody Thursday on seven felonies involving sexual misconduct with two boys, ages 16 and 13. An initial court appearance was held by video feed in a Maricopa County courtroom Friday at which time a judge set Navarette’s bail at $50,000.
According to court records, the older boy reported multiple incidents of abuse to the Phoenix Police Department on Wednesday. The next day a detective recorded a confrontation call between the boy and Navarrete before making the arrest.
A confrontation call is a common practice used by detectives in sexual abuse cases, particularly with children who cannot confront a suspect in person. The victim is told by a detective what types of things to say and ask in an attempt to obtain incriminating evidence against a suspect to use at trial.
A number of pretrial release conditions were also ordered in Navarrete’s case, including a no-contact order with the two victims as well as all other minors. He must also consent to electronic monitoring if he posts bail.
If convicted of all charges, Navarrete faces a mandatory prison sentence of nearly 50 years.
After the hearing, several public officials called on Navarrete to resign.
“Sen. Navarrete should resign immediately,” Gov. Doug Ducey’s statement read. “These allegations are abhorrent. My prayers are with the young victims and their loved ones during this traumatic time”
The governor’s statement was followed by Senate President Karen Fann.
“These are serious and alarming charges that require Senator Navarrete to step down immediately,” Fann stated Friday afternoon.
Raquel Teran, a state lawmaker and chair of the Arizona Democratic Party also joined the calls for Navarrete’s resignation.
“Like many in our community, I am grieving as more details come out about the charges against my Senate seatmate,” Teran tweeted. “I am calling on Senator Otoniel ‘Tony’ Navarrete to resign immediately. We are elected to protect the most vulnerable, and that begins with our children.
Other Democrats who called for Navarrete to step down Friday are Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Kathy Hoffman, Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Also garnering attention after Thursday’s arrest is a tweet Navarrete made Wednesday morning complimenting US. Senator Mark Kelly, who was critical of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018. Kelly called Kavanaugh “a dangerous choice” for the bench.
Blake Masters, who hopes to be Kelly’s opponent in the 2022 General Election, called out the senator for his silence on Navarrete’s arrest.
Navarrete, who is a member of the Arizona Legislature’s LGBT caucus, was elected to the State House of Representatives for LD30 in 2016. Then in 2018, he was elected to the State Senate, where he was assigned to the Senate’s appropriations, commerce, and health & human services committees during the last legislative session.
His official Senate biography lists his regular job as Deputy Director for Promise Arizona, a nonprofit community-based organization located in Phoenix. As Deputy Director, Navarrete worked to promote policies which “strengthen families and increase civic participation,” the biography reads.