Arizona state senator Otoniel "Tony" Navarrete was arrested last week on seven felony child sex abuse charges. He has resigned from his position since then.
The senator submitted a brief letter of resignation to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann on Tuesday, five days after he was arrested. He wrote in his letter, "Effective immediately, I am officially resigning my post as Arizona State Senator for District 30." Fann along with Arizona Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios accepted the resignation, noting that "this was the right thing to do considering the serious allegations," reports People.
The Phoenix Democrat is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 49 years in prison if he is convicted of seven felony child sex abuse charges levelled against him. The charges include three counts of sexual conduct with a minor (a class 2 felony), two counts of sexual conduct with a minor (a class 6 felony), one count of attempted sexual conduct with a minor and one count of molestation of a child.
As per a police report, a 16-year-old boy had contacted the police on Wednesday alleging that he was first molested by Navarrete at his home when he was 12 or 13 years old, and it continued until he was 15. Another 13-year-old boy approached the investigators the next day, claiming that Navarrete had once tried to touch his genitals.
When confronted about the allegations, Navarrete stated he "wasn't well." However, he maintained his innocence and vehemently denied the allegations against him in a separate public statement issued later. "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," he said, adding that he will "pursue all avenues" in order to clear his name.
He did not enter a plea during his first court appearance on Friday, but was released the next day after posting a $50,000 bond.
Meanwhile, the arrest has fuelled politics in the state, with Republican Senator Kelly Townsend filing a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee regarding the matter. Townsend requested an investigation into whether anyone at the state Capitol or other state government agency was aware of the allegations against Navarrete before his arrest.