Former Firefighter in Saipan, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Pleads Guilty to Sexual Exploitation of a Child
Saipan, CNMI – Richard Sullivan Benavente, age 43, pleaded guilty on February 10, 2014, to sexual exploitation of a child. The guilty plea was announced by Alicia A.G. Limtiaco, U.S. Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. According to the plea agreement, Benavente used his cell phone to produce a video of himself and a 15 year-old female engaging in sexually explicit conduct on or about June 23, 2013.
In July 2013, the CNMI Department of Public Safety received a video file from an anonymous source depicting Benavente and a minor female engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The minor was later identified. The same video file was found on Benavente’s cell phone pursuant to a search warrant. Benavente was arrested on a complaint on August 14, 2013. On August 22, 2013, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Benavente charging him with two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of attempted sexual exploitation of a child in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a).
Benavente faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, U.S. District Court of the CNMI, scheduled sentencing for September 10, 2014, at 10:00 a.m.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
U.S. Attorney Limtiaco acknowledged and commended the hard work and investigative efforts of the FBI, and the assistance of the CNMI Department of Public Safety. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rami S. Badawy and Ross K. Naughton.