Lemoore Petty Officer Held in Sexual Trafficking

A Navy petty officer forced a girl from Porterville to have sex with several men in Lemoore, the Porterville Police Department said Wednesday.

Police identified the man as Charles Ray Benavidez, 32, who is under arrest.

Benavidez, who was stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Station and lives in Lemoore, met the girl, 17, on a social networking site, police said.

The sex started when Benavidez, who was aware that the teen was underage, drove to Porterville and engaged her in a sexual act, according to police. The same thing happened on a second visit.

On the third visit, he coerced her into having sex with another man, police said.

Before long, Benavidez took the victim to his home in Lemoore and coerced her into having sex with several men in separate encounters, which he videotaped, police said.

On April 17, police got a tip about the 17-year-old, got help from other law enforcement agencies and obtained a search warrant for Benavidez's home.

Porterville police, Lemoore police, a Tulare police detective who serves on a task force that investigates crimes against children and the Department of Homeland Security searched Benavidez's home while he was away, then went to the Navy base to arrest him with help from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Benavidez was booked into Tulare County Jail on suspicion of pimping a minor over 16, possession of child pornography, using a minor for sex acts, unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and possession of marijuana for sale, police said.

Detectives also met with the U.S. Attorney's Office to ask that Benavidez be charged with sexual trafficking of a child.

Meanwhile, investigators are trying to identify the men who had sex with the victim.

There is no evidence of more victims, but anyone who has information about Benavidez is asked to call Sgt. Ron Moore or detective Harvey Dominguez at (559) 782-7400.

The Navy is cooperating with the investigation, said Navy spokesman Lt. Aaron Kakiel.

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