Ex-San Antonio lawyer found guilty in sex trial headed back to court Thursday

Mark Benavides seeking change of venue in remaining sex cases against him


SAN ANTONIO – A former San Antonio attorney who was sentenced to 80 years in prison after his conviction for continuous trafficking of persons is scheduled to be back in court Thursday.

Mark Benavides is seeking a change of venue on the remaining sex cases against him. 

Benavides’ previous trial was held in Wilson County. A jury found Benavides guilty in April and sentenced him for each of his six counts of human trafficking.

The trial included testimony from all six accusers.

His sentences will run concurrently, and he will be eligible for parole in 30 years.  The defense has already filed an appeal.

Prosecutors said Benavides traded sex for legal services. They urged other victims to come forward to keep him in prison for good.

"We know there are women we could never ID. We know there are women that did not want to talk There are women we did speak to that did not want to participate," said Meredith Chacon, a prosecutor. 

Prosecutors said Benavides' conviction has tainted some 5,000 cases and convictions in which he was involved. Benavides took the stand during the punishment phase of the trial.

He admitted that he had sex with all of the women named in the indictment and recorded their motel sexual sessions.

But Benavides said he believed the encounters were consensual and testified that trading sex in exchange for legal services was never discussed.

His accusers said those sexual encounters took place on days when they had court dates, and sometimes would occur in jury and witness rooms in the courthouse.

During the trial, some of the graphic and sexually explicit encounters were played for the jury.

One of the videos was so graphic that a female juror fainted as the panel left the courtroom last week.

Jurors also viewed a separate DVD of Benavides trying to get his brother to destroy sex videos at his home as the investigation was underway.

Benavides’ admission of the DVDs' existence was recorded at police headquarters in November 2015, when detectives interviewed him.

Benavides was arrested in November 2015 while he was running for Bexar County District judge, and was indicted in April 2016.

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