By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - A candidate for judge in San Antonio has been arrested on charges that he had sex with several female clients, including liaisons that took place in courthouse jury rooms, officials said on Wednesday.
Mark Benavides, 46, was released on bond after being arrested Tuesday night on charges of compelling prostitution, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison, according to court documents.
A San Antonio Police Department arrest affidavit said Benavides, a lawyer, led at least three women to believe that unless they had sex with him, he would hurt their criminal cases and they would have to go to jail. The incidents date back to 2009.
Benavides was not available to address the issue. In comments made to local media, he has denied the accusations.
"I was scared that he was going to get my bond revoked," one of the women told police investigators, according to the affidavit.
"I was scared that he was going to tell the judge something that was going to get me a worse sentence," she said.
Another woman told police she and Benavides had sexual relations in his law office, his vehicle, his father's office, and at the courthouse, where once Benavides prevented another person from entering the room by telling her he was in the middle of an "attorney client conference," the affidavit said.
She told police Benavides pressed her to have sex with him, promising to get her case dropped.
"She felt she had no other choice and was afraid of what negative implications would occur if she refused," according to the detective's testimony.
Benavides also videotaped their sexual encounters, according to the arrest affidavit. The women all identified Benavides because of the "scales of justice" he has tattooed on his back, "just like on his business card," one of the women told police.
According to campaign records, Benavides is a candidate for the 175th District Court, a state district court that handles felony criminal cases, including compelling prostitution.
(Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Christian Plumb)