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Phoenix nonprofit says it will fire Tony Navarrete after child sex crimes arrest

By: - August 9, 2021 2:38 pm
Sen. Tony Navarrete in his official Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office mugshot

Neighborhood Ministries, the faith-based nonprofit that employs state Sen. Tony Navarrete, said it has placed the Democratic lawmaker on leave following his arrest last week for allegedly molesting a boy over several years.

Kit Danley, president of Neighborhood Ministries, told Arizona Mirror in an email the organization placed Navarrete on leave as soon as the group learned of the arrest and allegations. Danley said he will be terminated once the leave ends.

Navarrete worked for two years in an administrative role as community liaison with the organization, Danley said.

Neighborhood Ministries operates a preschool, a children’s camp and a program for migrant children and teens. One of its programs, Nueva Esperanza, cares for migrant children and teens who arrived in the country unaccompanied or were separated from their relatives at the US-Mexico border. Since 2019, the organization has contracted with the federal government to service the unaccompanied or separated migrant minors through the Office of Refugee Resettlement. 

Danley said Navarrete had no contact with children or minors in the programs Neighborhood Ministries administers.  

“Tony was an employee of Neighborhood Ministries for the past 2 years in an administrative role as a community liaison with allied agencies and partners. He had no direct contact with any minors or children in our programming,” Danley said.  

She said the organization is “heartbroken” by the cases involving Navarrete’s arrest. He is alleged to have molested a boy over several years, beginning when he was either 12 or 13 years old, and attempting to molest the boy’s younger brother.

“We are heartbroken by the news of the details and arrest surrounding Otoniel Navarrete. We remain in steadfast prayer for the victims and are deeply grieved as the details of the investigation are revealed. We also remain in prayer for Tony and are shocked to learn of this disturbing news,” Danley added. 

Danley added the hotline for domestic and sexual violence victims. 

Navarrete paid the $50,000 bond set by a judge and he was released on Saturday morning from county jail, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. 

This story deals with sexual abuse and assault of minors. If you or someone you know has been a victim of this crime, call 800-656-HOPE for 24/7 help and support.

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Laura Gómez
Laura Gómez

Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for education, immigration, political, and public safety reporting and Spanish-language news and feature reporting. Laura worked for The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona for four years, covering city government, economic development, immigration, politics and trade. In 2017, Laura traveled the length of the U.S.-Mexico border for “The Wall,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning project produced by The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lived in Puerto Rico and Boston before moving to Phoenix in 2014. Catch her researching travel deals, feasting on mariscos or playing soccer.