“I’m sorry, mijo,” Navarrete allegedly told the teen, using a Spanish term of affection.
Phoenix police, who had been recording the call with the teen’s permission, arrested Navarrete hours later. The state lawmaker, who is accused of sexually abusing the teenager and a second younger boy, now faces seven felony charges related to the accusations.
On Tuesday, Navarrete resigned from office, citing the ongoing criminal case.
“I adamantly deny all allegations that have been made and will pursue all avenues in an effort to prove my innocence. In doing so, I will be focusing the vast majority of my time and energy on my defense,” he said in a Tuesday email blast from his campaign account.
Navarrete, a Democrat representing voters in Arizona’s District 30, became a state senator in 2018 and won reelection last year. He had previously served in the state House of Representatives.
Legislators on both sides of the aisle called for Navarrete to step down following his arrest. In a joint statement Tuesday, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, and Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios said Navarrete’s decision to vacate his seat was “the right thing to do considering the serious allegations.”
“We know that the Arizona Judicial Branch will deliver justice and pray for healing and support for all victims,” the two said.
The criminal case against Navarrete came together in a matter of hours, according to the police report. After the 16-year-old contacted police last Wednesday, detectives interviewed him and documented the alleged abuse. The teen told detectives Navarrete first molested him at a home in Phoenix when he was 12 or 13 and continued to do so on several occasions until he was 15.
The next day, investigators spoke with a different 13-year-old boy, who said Navarrete had once attempted to touch his genitals, according to the report.
On Thursday afternoon, police had one of the teens place a phone call to Navarrete, who allegedly apologized to the caller for sexually abusing him. Officers arrested Navarrete later that night.
After posting a $50,000 bond and leaving jail Saturday, Navarrete deleted his social media accounts and stayed silent as calls mounted for his resignation. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) was among those asking Navarrete to step down, tweeting: “Sen. Navarrete should resign immediately. These allegations are abhorrent.”
Navarrete tendered his resignation in a brief one-sentence email to Fann, the Senate president, on Tuesday. In a longer statement issued via email, Navarrete asserted his innocence but said that mounting a defense in the criminal case would limit his capacity to serve as an elected official.
“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 wrote.
Navarrete is due back in court Thursday morning for a hearing on the status of the case.
If convicted on all counts, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 49 years in prison, prosecutors said at a court hearing last week.