Attorney facing sex charges denied change of venue

Mark Benavides claims publicity makes fair trial impossible

SAN ANTONIO – During a brief hearing Friday, a motion asking for a change of venue for attorney Mark Benavides was denied by Judge Dick Alcala.

Benavides faces 39 counts of sex charges that surfaced after clients claimed that he would force them to have sex in return for legal representation and then record the sex acts.

He also faces charges of compelling prostitution and sexual assault of a child. That indictment was returned on Thursday.

The publicity generated by his case dictated a change of venue according to Benavides’ attorney, Monica Guerrero.

“There was a lot of media publicity on this case, and because he is an attorney, and because he ran for public office, we’re asking for a change of venue, so we can go somewhere else where everybody doesn’t know him,” Guerrero said.

Prosecutors argued that the publicity was neither pervasive nor inflammatory, which they said is the criteria for granting a change of venue.

“The victims in this case are citizens of Bexar County. The defendant is a citizen of Bexar County, and the citizens of Bexar County deserve to hear this case,” Assistant District Attorney Meredith Chacon said. “There’s no reason to change the venue.”

Judge Alcala did grant Guerrero’s request to lower Benavides’ bond from $500,000 to $250,000.

Benavides remains free on bond pending trial, which is set for Jan. 23.

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