Arizona State Senator Charged with 7 Felony Sex Crimes With Minor

By - August 10, 2021
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Arizona State Senator Otoniel Navarrete has been hit with seven felony counts of sexual misconduct with two minors, which would net him 49 years in federal prison if convicted.

The Maricopa County judge on the case set Navarrete’s bond at $50,000 and put several restrictions on him if he is allowed to leave jail. The senator made his first court appearance last Friday.

The prosecutor said that he should not be allowed to contact minors, whether they are in his family, out of his family, or strangers. He was eventually released on bond.

His Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate told him to resign his seat immediately, and other officials also asked that he step down.

His colleagues signed a joint statement at the end of last week, noting that the serious nature and circumstances of the felony charges faced by the senator are a major distraction from his duties as an elected official.

They also said in the joint statement that sexual abuse of this nature is intolerable, and he should resign immediately.

Navarrete Was Arrested After Several 2019 Allegations Surfaced

Navarrete was placed under arrested by state law enforcement after police in Phoenix received several complaints about alleged incidents with minors that occurred in 2019. Police interviewed the victims and had one of them call the senator, according to a statement of probable cause.

In the call that was recorded by police, Navarrete acknowledged touching the male victim inappropriately and performing oral sex on him several times, per documents released from the superior court in Maricopa County

Navarette said on the recorded call that he regretted what he did and knows the actions were wrong. He also said the man was not at fault for anything he did.

In the call, the victim, who is now 16, confronted the senator and asked him why he touched him inappropriately. Navarrete told him he was mentally unwell at the time, and he continued to express regret for what he did.

The alleged incidents occurred at Navarrete’s house and have caused the youth to feel anxiety and anger, the young man said.

The arrest documents also note another incident where the senator reached under a minor’s shorts and touched his upper thigh. The youth swatted his hand away.

Police arrested Navarrete in his house without incident, and he attended his initial court appearance remotely while in custody.

The state senator’s arrest comes a few days after he tested positive for COVID-19. He noted on his Facebook page that he has mild symptoms and that people should get the vaccine.

Navarrete was elected to the state House of Representatives in Arizona in 2016 and represented District 30. In 2018, he was elected to the state Senate for District 30, and he was re-elected in 2020.

He also serves as the deputy director of Promise Arizona, a community-based nonprofit organization that advocated for young undocumented migrants from Mexico.

AP Recently Released List Of 90 State Lawmakers Accused of Sex Crimes

Navarrete is hardly alone as a state legislator accused of sex crimes with minors. The Associated Press released a list of 90 state lawmakers that have been accused of sexual misconduct between 2017 and 2019.

The AP report noted that many people in political power do not face sufficient repercussions for their sex crimes. Many of the people on the list either resigned or did not seek reelection, but only 10 of the legislators on the list were charged with a crime or went to trial.

The AP report also stated that the lack of accountability has remained the same since 2019, with several high-profile state politicians being charged with sex crimes. Of those, the ones that have been seen the most in the media are New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Florida State Representative Matt Gaetz, and Missouri State Representative Rick Roeber.

Cuomo is facing several accusations of sexual harassment and related inappropriate behavior, with people on both sides of the aisle demanding his resignation. Cuomo is also facing an investigation in the New York State Assembly that could lead to his impeachment.

Gaetz is being investigated for possibly breaking federal sex trafficking laws; he also is accused of having sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old and compensating her to travel with him.

Roeber was tossed out of the Missouri House in April 2021 after a state investigation into child abuse found that he sexually and physically abused his children.

Of those three, Roeber is the only one that has been removed from his legislative position. Cuomo and Gaetz are still in office even with the serious allegations against them.

Unfortunately, many politicians often pay no higher price than having to resign their office. It remains to be seen if Navarrete’s price will be more than having to resign his seat. In his case, at least, he has been charged with felonies and will eventually have his day in court.