Coerce Clients Into Sex, Get 80 Years in Prison
At least, Mark Benavides should have known that his case wasn't going well when it happened to him. The former San Antonio lawyer was on trial for sex trafficking, and the evidence included DVDs of him forcing clients to have sex with him.
One video caused a juror to faint. That's because, by all accounts -- including his own --Benavides was a monster.
Indicted on 18 counts of sexual assault and 17 counts of compelling prostitution, Benavides had represented his victims as a court-appointed lawyer. He allegedly forced them to have sex in conference rooms, a motel, and his office. At his trial, women testified that Benavides said they would get their cases dropped in exchange for sex. Defense attorneys said it was consensual.
Benavides, who was running for a judgeship when he was arrested, may have been his own worst witness. According to reporters, authorities seized almost 250 videos of the lawyer having sex with the victims.
He was convicted and sentenced to 80 years in prison. It took jurors, minus the one who fainted out after seeing a rough sex video, about six hours to reach a verdict.
"This is human trafficking," prosecutor Meredith Chacon told the Express-News. "He transported, coerced, threatened and made them feel they had no choice. This jury understood that."
Thousands of Cases
Chacon said prosecutors may have to review many cases that Benavides handled for criminal defendants. During his 15-year-career, he handled thousands of misdemeanor cases.
According to reports, Benavides will be eligible for parole after 30 years. He still faces separate charges for sexual assault of a child and other sex crimes.
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