Defense contractor in San Antonio denied bail in enticement case
A defense contractor with a top secret clearance was denied bail Tuesday in a case in which he allegedly tried to entice a 14-year-old “girl” to have sex.
Rick A. Benavides, who works in information technology for the Defense Logistics Agency at Port San Antonio, was caught last week in an undercover sting operation by agents of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Benavides thought he was meeting the “girl” with whom he had been chatting online for sex at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. In reality, the “girl” was an agent.
Benavides, 45, used the online handle Man of Solitude, to chat on a computer application with the “girl,” according to court records and the testimony of agent Jason Hutchings.
According to Hutchings, Benavides tried to persuade the “girl” to send him nude photos. He told her he had a lot to lose because he worked for the government.
He even told her to watch “To Catch a Predator” on YouTube,” according to Hutchings and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bettina Richardson. Richardson added that Benavides called himself a predator in the chats and in texts with the agent.
“For five days, he was grooming ‘her,’” Richardson told U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth “Betsy” Chestney. “He was hell bent on going to Lackland Air Force Base to have sex with a 14-year-old. He brought two Viagras …but no condom.”
Benavides’ lawyer, assistant federal public defender Jack Clark, argued for bond, but could not sway the judge.
Chestney said Benavides has a sophistication with technology and might be able to hide other illicit activity if she let him out on bail. The judge also said there was “a sophistication” in Benavides’ approach to pursuing the “girl.”
“This is a relentless, careful pursuit of someone he thought was 14 years old,” Chestney said, denying him bond.
If convicted of attempted solicitation of a minor, Benavides faces 10 years to life in prison.
Guillermo Contreras covers federal courts in San Antonio and international legal issues. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @gmaninfedland