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Phoenix nonprofit says it will fire state Sen. Navarrete after child sex crimes arrest

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. 

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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.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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Sen. Tony Navarrete in his official Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office mugshot.