After his arrest on allegations of child sexual abuse, and multiple calls for him to step down as a Senator, Otoniel "Tony" Navarrete has resigned his state Senate seat.
The Democrat senator issued a statement proclaiming his innocence. "Effective immediately, I am officially resigning my post as Arizona State Senator for District 30," Navarete wrote in an email viewed by reporters at The Arizona Republic
"I adamantly deny all allegations that have been made and will pursue all avenues in an effort to prove my innocence," he wrote.
The statement comes five days after Navarete, 35, was arrested on seven felony charges related to child sex abuse involving two minors.
The arrest came after a 16-year-old boy went to Phoenix police with allegations of abuse dating from 2019. His statement also alleged that Navarrete attempted sexual conduct with a 13-year-old boy.
The accused was jailed on a $50,000 bond and fitted with an electronic monitor while his case is scheduled.
Karen Fann, R-Prescott, and Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix, issued a bipartisan statement: "This was the right thing to do, considering the serious allegations," they wrote. "We know the Arizona Judicial Branch will deliver justice and pray for healing and support for all victims."
Calls for Navarrete to step down grew since the news broke of his arrest, and on Monday, state Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, filed an ethics complaint because Navarrete was yet to step down.
In the meantime, Neighborhood Ministries, Navarrete's employer, placed him on leave and said he will be terminated when that leave expires.
The process for finding a replacement for the senator whose seat serves Legislative District 30 will start with the appointment of a citizens' committee that Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo will help form within seven business days.
That committee will have three weeks to nominate three candidates, who must live in the district and be registered Democrats.
When the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors chooses a replacement from the list of nominees, that person will be sworn in and will serve out the rest of Navarrete's term, which ends in January 2023.