Former state Sen. Tony Navarrete indicted on child sex crime charges

Perry Vandell
Arizona Republic
In this Jan. 9, 2018, file photo, then-Rep. Tony Navarrete, D-Phoenix, waits with Arizona House members receiving mandatory sexual harassment and other ethics issues training on the House floor at the state Capitol in Phoenix. Currently a state senator, Navarrete has been arrested on suspicion of charges accusing him of sexual conduct with a minor, police said Aug. 6, 2021.

Corrections & Clarifications: A previous version of this article misspelled former state Sen. Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete's last name.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced on Thursday that a grand jury indicted former state Sen. Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete last week on multiple charges relating to sexual conduct involving children.

On Aug. 13, the grand jury indicted Navarrete on the following charges:

  • One count of molestation of a child; a class 2 felony.
  • Three counts of sexual conduct with a minor as a class 2 felony.
  • Two counts of sexual conduct with a minor as a class 6 felony.
  • One count of attempting to commit molestation of a child; a class 2 felony.

Phoenix police arrested Navarrete  on Aug. 5 after it received a complaint a day prior regarding allegations of sexual conduct with a minor starting in 2019. Police interviewed the alleged victims and then had one of them call Navarrete, according to a probable cause statement.

In the recorded call, monitored by police, Navarrete, 35, acknowledged touching the victim's penis and performing oral sex on the youth multiple times over several years, according to documents released by Maricopa County Superior Court.

Navarrete told the youth he regretted his actions, knew they were wrong and repeatedly told the youth that the young man was not at fault for any of the interactions.

"Of course, I regret any bad actions that I did, absolutely wishing everything could be different. I'm sorry, mijo," Navarrete was quoted as saying in the phone call. It appears he was not aware that police were listening in.

The documents note another alleged incident where Navarrete reached under the shorts and touched the upper thigh of another teenager, who swatted his hand away.

Officers arrested Navarrete at his home without incident. He was in custody and attended remotely at his initial appearance.

Navarrete was held on a $50,000 bond and had to follow conditions that he stays away from children, has no contact with the victims and surrenders his passport — among other things — if released. 

His next scheduled court appearance is on Friday at 10:30 a.m. in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Navarrete tendered his resignation in a brief email sent to Senate President Karen Fann on Aug. 10 but issued a separate statement to reporters vowing to prove his innocence.

"I adamantly deny all allegations that have been made and will pursue all avenues in an effort to prove my innocence," he wrote.

The resignation came after numerous politicians from both sides of the aisle called for Navarrete to step down.

Resources for victims of abuse

The LGBTQ caucus referred anyone who has suffered from sex crimes to a 24/7 hotline (800-656-4673) for local resources, counseling, and other services.

The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386 handles calls for LGBTQ victims of sexual crimes.

And Senate Democrats referred people to the Arizona Sexual and Domestic Violence Helpline at 602-279-2980 or 520-720-3383 via text.

Republic reporter Mary Jo Pitzl contributed to this article.

Reach the reporter Perry Vandell at 602-444-2474 or Follow him on Twitter @PerryVandell.

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