A state lawmaker in Arizona has been arrested on startling criminal charges.
According to local reports, Democratic state Sen. Tony Navarrete was taken into custody on Tuesday and is facing multiple counts of sexual conduct with a child.
Potentially decades-long sentence
The 35-year-old elected official allegedly preyed on two boys in 2019. As of the latest reports available, he is being held on a $50,000 bond.
During his initial court appearance on Friday, a judge determined that Navarrete represented a flight risk given the severity of his alleged crimes. If convicted on all counts, he could face 49 years behind bars.
Navarrete was ordered to surrender his passport, avoid contact with minors, and remain under electronic surveillance.
Police reportedly received a complaint about him on Wednesday and he was arrested the following day — after investigators interviewed an alleged victim and witnesses.
One 16-year-old male told police that Navarrete molested him numerous times, resulting in emotional trauma. The lawmaker is also accused of touching the upper leg of the boy’s 13-year-old brother, who slapped away his hand. In a recorded message, Navarrete allegedly told his victim that he regretted his actions and insisted that he “wasn’t well” when the boy asked why he was molested.
“Awaiting further details”
The Arizona Democrat was first elected to the state House in 2016 and advanced to the state Senate two years later. He was re-elected to that post last year.
In addition to his legislative work, Navarrete has also served as the deputy director of the immigrant advocacy group Promise Arizona. For its part, the Arizona Democratic Party issued a response to the disturbing development while avoiding any definitive statements.
“We are aware one of our members has been arrested and are awaiting further details and for law enforcement to do its job,” the group declared. “We will not have further comment at this time.”
Navarrete, a progressive Democrat, has attracted attention in recent weeks for his outspoken criticism of the ongoing election audit in Maricopa County. The openly gay legislator has been described as a rising star in the party and was a founding member of Arizona’s LGBT caucus.
Shortly before his arrest, Navarrete was reportedly infected with COVID-19 despite having been vaccinated. One of his final public statements before his arrest advised individuals to “mask up again” and encouraging unvaccinated people that the “best defense is getting the vaccine.”