Texas Lawyer Convicted Of Coercing Women Into Sex In Exchange For Legal Services
“I felt young and dumb and powerless,” one of the disgraced attorney’s victims recalls.
An attorney in Texas accused of coercing his clients into having sex with him was convicted of human trafficking and sentenced to 80 years behind bars.
According to a criminal complaint, authorities alleged Mark Benavides pressured his victims everywhere—from courtroom conference rooms to his office and hotels between 2009 and 2015.
In April 2016, a jury indicted the San Antonio-based lawyer on multiple counts of sexual assault and compelling prostitution.
During trial, Benavides defense team argued the sexual contact was consensual. Several of his accusers, however, testified the attorney threatened to sabotage their cases by not properly representing them in court if they did not give in to his demands, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
Authorities took 246 DVDs Benavides recorded of the sexual encounters into evidence, some of which were shown at trial.
In April 2018, Benavides, once a candidate for state district judge, was convicted on six counts of human trafficking. He will be eligible for parole after serving 30 years of his 80-year sentence, according to the Express-News.
As recently as last year, officials with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit said they continue to review cases dating as far back as 2000 that involve women who Benavides may have represented, KSAT reported.
“We are looking into not just those incidents that were recorded, not just the videos he made and the documentation he made, but anyone who might have been affected,” Assistant District Attorney Matthew Howard said in February 2021.
District Attorney Joe Gonzales added: “We’re going to do the right thing, even when no one is looking.”
As a result, multiple victims of the disgraced attorney have had their records cleared after their past convictions were overturned.
One woman, who was 20 in 2008 when police charged her with drug possession after marijuana was found in a car she was riding in, recalled for the Express-News how Benavides allegedly abused her the day she had a scheduled court appearance.
“He took me to a small room down a back hallway, and at that point he told me if I didn’t perform a sexual act on him right then and there, he would not only kill my case, but try to worsen my case,” she said. “So, I did.”
The woman, who eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession, has now had her conviction overturned by the DA’s and public defender’s offices.
“I felt young and dumb and powerless. Taken advantage of, really,” she said. “Your lawyer is supposed to help you, not hurt you.”
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