Who is Tony Navarrete? Arizona senator accused of molesting boy faces 49 years in prison
Rising Democratic politician and state Senator Otoniel 'Tony' Navarrete has become the latest politician to be embroiled in a sex scandal. The Arizona state Senator has been accused of repeatedly abusing a now 16-year-old and is currently in jail. Navarrete is yet to make the $50,000 bond at the time of reporting and faces up to 49 years if found guilty on all charges.
In separate incidents, on August 3, we had reported that an Arizona school principal Victor Zamora was arrested for sexual misconduct with at least two minors. In late July, we had also reported about the criminal charges against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the first time such a high-ranked clergyman from the Catholic Church is facing charges in the US. Days before that, Puredi Hillary of the Shiloh Tabernacle Church faced accusations of abusing a minor girl for three years.
Inspired by the #MeToo movement and the rise in reporting, numerous victims have come forward to report cases of abuse. In the case of Navarrete, the minor accused him of sexual misconduct for several years, starting when he was 12. Navarrete has also been accused by the teen's younger brother, leading to a host of charges.
Who is Tony Navarrete?
An alumnus of Arizona State University, Navarrete was widely considered to be a rising star in the Democratic Party. He also happens to be one of the four openly gay members of the Arizona State Legislature. Between 2007 and 2008, he worked on job development for the social service organization Neighborhood Ministries in Phoenix, Arizona. He also had a stint at the National Alliance for Hispanic Families, and also worked as an eviction prevention specialist with University Settlement.
In 2011, Navarrete joined Promise Arizona as a deputy director, a role which he still serves today. That led him to serve in the state House of Representatives between 2017 and 2019, before winning the contest for the state senate in 2019. He currently represents District 30 in the Arizona State Senate. According to Associated Press, Navarrete "was considered a likely candidate for statewide office, perhaps as soon as 2022."
That dream though may no longer become a reality as Navarrete is facing some serious charges, against which he is yet to enter a plea. According to reports, he made his first court appearance on Friday, August 6, 2021. The now 16-year-old accused Navarrete of touching his genitals with his hands and mouth, starting when he was around 12 or 13 and continuing through his 15th birthday. He also said that he suffers from anxiety and anger that stems from the abuse.
As a result of the allegations, Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner Steve McCarthy set the $50,000 bond requested by the prosecutor. Once details of the allegations were made public, lawmakers called on him to resign. "The circumstances and serious nature of the felony charges faced by Senator Navarrete provide an untenable distraction from his role as an elected official and public servant for District 30," a statement from the Legislative Democrats said.
It's unclear if Navarrete will pull the plug on his promising career just yet, but he may have no choice. He is facing one class 2 felony for molestation, three class 2 felonies for sexual conduct with a minor, one class 3 felony for attempted sexual contact with a minor, and two class 6 felonies for sexual conduct with a minor. If found guilty, he could spend a minimum of 49 years behind bars. If he does make bail, Navarrete would be subject to electronic monitoring the commissioner ordered. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 16.