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Leaders Of Arizona Senate Want Accused Member To Resign

Associated Press | Ross Franklin

Democratic and Republican leaders of the Arizona Senate on Monday jointly called on a state senator accused of child molestation to resign and an ethics complaint that could lead to expulsion was also filed.

The statement from Republican Senate President Karen Fann and Democratic Minority Leader Rebecca Rios increased pressure on Sen. Tony Navarette to step down and showed a unified front from both parties to see the Phoenix Democrat gone.

“Child abuse and sexual misconduct of this kind is intolerable,” their statement said. “We hope that justice will be ultimately served and pray for healing and support for all victims.”

Fann and Senate Democrats had separately called on him to resign on Friday, along with Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and many others. On Monday, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly joined in the call for Navarette to step down.

Navarette was arrested by Phoenix police after a now-16-year-old boy came forward and said Navaratte had molested him. Navarette, 35, was arrested Thursday after police recorded a call between the boy and the senator where he reportedly acknowledged the molestation and apologized, authorities said.

Navarette faces multiple charges of sexual conduct with a minor and a child molestation charge and was released on $50,000 bond on Saturday. He did not enter a plea during an initial court appearance on Friday where a prosecutor said he faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 49 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

Navarette’s cell phone was disconnected when a call seeking comment was made on Monday.

The complaint filed by Republican Sen. Kelly Townsend asks for an immediate investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee to consider discipline. She wants the committee to meet within a week if Navarette does not resign.

The ethics chair, Republican Sen. Sine Kerr, said she had notified Navarette of the complaint and given him seven days to file a response. She said she plans to call the committee in to investigate the complaint.

“Senator Navarrete is facing serious felony charges. He should resign from the Senate,” Kerr said in a statement. “In the meantime, the Senate Ethics Committee will follow its process.”

The Senate can vote to expel a member, but because the Legislature has adjourned for the year Ducey would have to call for a special session for that to happen before the next session starts in January.