A DEMOCRATIC lawmaker has been arrested over “forcing oral sex on a 12-year-old boy”.
Arizona State Senator Tony Navarrete, 35, was charged this week with sexually abusing a boy for years and attempting to abuse another.
Navarrete is accused of repeatedly abusing a boy with whom he was living over a period of several years, according to court records.
The boy, now 16, told detectives that Navarrete touched his genitals with his hands and mouth, starting when he was around 12 or 13 and continuing through his 15th birthday.
The teen said he suffers from anxiety and anger that stems from the abuse.
In a phone call recorded by police on Thursday afternoon, Navarrete apologized to the teen, saying he regretted his actions and would have to live with them for the rest of his life, according to the court records.
When asked why he did it, he told the boy he wasn’t well, detectives wrote.
Navarette 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.
APOLOGY TO TEEN
"Of course, I regret any bad actions that I did, absolutely wishing everything could be different. I'm sorry,” Navarrete was quoted as saying in the phone call.
The teen’s younger brother, now 13, told police that Navarrete touched his upper leg inside his shorts, causing the boy to slap away the hand and get up, detectives wrote in a probable cause affidavit filed in court.
Navarrete made an initial appearance in court Friday and did not enter a plea on the charges, which include child molestation and sexual contact with a minor.
He appeared by video from jail, most of the time holding an iPad so that only his forehead could be seen.
Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner Steve McCarthy set the $50,000 bond requested by prosecutor Jeanine Sorrentino.
Sorrentino said Navarrete faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 49 years if he's convicted of all charges.
Defense attorney for Navarrete, Roland Rillos, requested a $15,000 bond, saying Navarrete has no prior criminal history and is not a flight risk.
McCarthy also ordered Navarrete to surrender his passport and avoid contact with all minors if he's released.
Navarrete, who represents a west Phoenix district, was a rising star in the Democratic Party and was considered a likely candidate for statewide office, perhaps as soon as 2022.
He is serving his second term in the Senate after one term in the House.
He announced earlier this week that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and was experiencing minor symptoms while isolating at home.
CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE RESIGNATION
The state’s Democratic Party has called for his immediate resignation.
"While everyone in this country is entitled to a fair trial, elected officials must be held to the highest ethical standards," the Arizona Democratic Party said in a statement Friday. "Given the gravity of the felony charges against State Senator Tony Navarrete, the Arizona Democratic Party is calling for his immediate resignation."
“These allegations are abhorrent,” Republican Gov. Doug Ducey wrote on Twitter. “My prayers are with the young victims and their loved ones during this traumatic time.”
His Democratic colleagues in the state House and Senate called the charges against Navarrete "disturbing" and also urged him to resign.
"Abuse of this kind is intolerable and our hearts go out to the victims," the legislative Democrats said in a joint statement.
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