The fourth Navy SEAL this year has been charged with sex crimes, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, and a Navy charge sheet being brought against SEAL Lieutenant Joseph Benevento.
The Navy is charging Benevento with sexual assault following an incident that took place in San Diego, California, on November 6, 2016. The charge sheet was filed on June 29th. According to the Navy, Benevento twice violated military law (the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, UCMJ) when he allegedly placed an identified woman on a bed, removed her pants, and proceeded to have intercourse with her without her consent.
The legal proceedings are so far described as “preliminary,” as Benevento has not been placed into Article 32 proceedings, which are the military equivalent of a civilian Grand Jury hearing. Benevento’s criminal defense lawyer, Michael Waddington, insisted that Benevento was innocent, and stated that, “this case was investigated by local authorities and they declined to prosecute,” according to the Union-Tribune. Waddington has called the Navy proceedings a “witch hunt.”
Benevento is a graduate of the University of Florida, is 33 years old, and at this time, has not been arrested or detained. According to Navy records and the Union-Tribune, he enlisted in the Navy in 2006, and has served in the Middle East and Afghanistan.