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The two agencies, normally on opposing sides, are working together to ensure justice for the victims of disbarred lawyer Mark Henry Benavides, who was once a candidate for state district judge. Benavides, 50, was convicted in of six counts of human trafficking and coercing his clients to have sex with him. He threatened that if they did not, he would withhold legal services, sabotage their cases and make sure they went to prison.
On ExpressNews. It was a case that rattled San Antonio. The intense media coverage prompted a change of venue to Floresville in Wilson County, where a jury heard testimony from six women Benavides had represented in prostitution or drug cases. Their testimony established a pattern — Benavides would pick them up from their homes or from jail, then take them to a hotel or a meeting room behind the courtroom to have sex.
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A year-old victim of now-disbarred Mark Benavides goes through paperwork at her San Antonio home on June 18, She was arrested in for DWI; he insisted she plead guilty even though she said she was innocent. A recent review off the case showed the arrest wasn't supported by evidence and her conviction has been overturned based on Benavides' ineffectual counsel. The evidence against Benavides included portions of videos the lawyer recorded of himself having sex with his clients.
A member of the jury collapsed after watching some of the images on the first day of the trial. The juror was replaced by an alternate. Former San Antonio attorney Mark Benavides is serving 80 years in prison for forcing former clients into having sex.
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The jury found Benavides guilty of all six counts and sentenced him to 80 years in prison. Benavides will have to serve 30 years before becoming eligible for parole.
The cases stretch back to So far, two women represented by Benavides have had their convictions overturned and their records expunged. Lawyers are supposed to help you, not hurt you. Another victim, now 51, was arrested in for DWI. She hired attorney Mark Benavides, who she said began demanding sex, threatening that if she didn't "play with him" he would ensure she and her son, who had an unrelated case in another court, would be send to prison.
Both told their stories to the Express-News, on condition their names not be published. Their s paint a harrowing picture of how the justice system went awry in their cases. She was 20 when she found herself facing possible prison time.
She had been a passenger in a car when police found marijuana during a traffic stop and no one claimed it. Everyone in the car was charged with drug possession. The woman said a friend referred her to Benavides in for legal representation. She said she rejected his overtures. Things changed the day she had a court appearance on her drug charge. The woman said Benavides kept trying to meet with her after that episode, but she was afraid. When she had to see him, she would bring her mother along.
The woman said that, eventually, Benavides stopped talking to her about her drug case except to urge her to plead guilty. It dragged on for nearly four years.
The woman pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana. She was granted probation and successfully completed it. A now year-old woman was arrested in on a DWI charge and hired Mark Benavides as her attorney. She said she rejected his advances and later lost herher car, job and apartment.
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And he did. She was charged with possession of marijuana when police found the drug in a car she was riding in but she didn't have it on her person. Benavides told her she had to plead guilty to stay out of prison. Her conviction has been overturned based on his ineffectual counsel. The second victim whose record has been expunged met Benavides when she was at the Bexar County Courthouse with her son, who was facing an assault charge.
Benavides gave her his card. Six months later, she was charged with driving under the influence, and she hired him to represent her. I knew he was serious. He wanted to meet up.
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Benavides texted and called her, describing in explicit terms the sex acts he wanted her to perform. In the end, she had to hire another lawyer, because Benavides was behind bars by the time her case came up. Who does that? But why should I have to do that? The woman who had been charged with drug possession encouraged victims to make that call.
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A year-old woman victimized by a San Antonio attorney said she was 20 when she was arrested on a marijuana possession charge as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She had never been in trouble before and had no drugs on her person, but that arrest triggered a terrifying string of events that still affects her today.
Elizabeth Zavala covers county and state courts in San Antonio. To from Elizabeth, become a subscriber. Caption Close. Image 1 of 8.
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