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Sex in exchange for legal services not uncommon, attorneys say

SA Bar Association president warns practice could lead to serious consequences

SAN ANTONIO – Attorney Mark Benavides is facing sex charges that surfaced when a client made allegations that he provided her legal representation in exchange for sex.

Many lawyers admit that the practice does occur.

“It appears that the ‘couch fee’ is alive and well,” one lawyer, who asked that he not be identified, said.

In Benavides’ case, the sex-for-services, according to several subsequent indictments, led to more serious allegations that included promotion of prostitution, sexual performance of a child and sexual assault.

READ MORE: Attorney asked brother to destroy evidence in sex case

Though sex for services is not against the law, Robert Barrera, the president of the San Antonio Bar Association, said it is extremely dangerous.

“The ultimate consequences could be criminal or cost you your entire career,” Barrera said.

Though he did not disagree that some lawyers practice the exchange, he said, “It’s a false statement to say that it’s a common thing for lawyers to have sexual relations with their clients.”

RELATED: Embattled SA attorney faces sex trafficking charges

Benavides is scheduled to be tried on Oct. 23 in Wilson County, where the case was moved on a change of venue.

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