An Arizona lawmaker has resigned after he was accused of having sexual contact with a minor in 2019.
Republican Senate President Karen Fann and Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios issued a joint statement accepting the resignation of state Sen. Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete on Tuesday.
“Moments ago, Senator Tony Navarrete tendered his resignation, effectively immediately,” they said in the statement. “This was the right thing to do considering the serious allegations. We know that the Arizona Judicial Branch will deliver justice and pray for healing and support for all victims.”
The resignation comes after the Phoenix Democrat was booked Thursday on multiple counts of sexual conduct with a minor and other charges.
Navarrete, who could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday, told The Associated Press that he “adamantly” denies “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 added: “While I would love nothing more than to continue to serve the families of Arizona’s 30th District, I worry it will be impossible to give my constituents the full attention they deserve. Therefore, I must resign my post as Arizona State Senator today.”
Phoenix police started looking at allegations against Navarrete last Wednesday, Sgt. Andrew Williams said. After “detectives interviewed a juvenile victim and witnesses,” they had “probable cause to arrest the suspect, Otoniel Navarrete,” according to police.
In a recorded phone call with the accuser Thursday, authorities said Navarrete admitted that he regretted touching the boy, saying, “I’m sorry, mijo,” according to a probable cause statement obtained by NBC News.
When the accuser asked the lawmaker why he touched him, Navarrete allegedly apologized, acknowledged his mistakes and repeatedly told the victim none of it was the boy’s fault, the document stated.
Later that same day, Navarrete was taken into custody at his home in Phoenix, according to the statement.
He was released Saturday on a $50,000 bond and ordered to wear an electronic monitor, according to The Arizona Republic.
A status conference in his case is scheduled for Thursday morning. He is expected to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Monday.