The federal court granted yesterday the U.S. government’s motion to continue detaining a firefighter and a woman who were arrested by the FBI last week for alleged sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of two girls.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona determined that there is a serious risk that Richard Sullivan Benavente and Annette Nakatsukasa Basa will not appear and will endanger the safety of another person or the community.
In her order, Manglona said it is presumed that no combination of factors will ensure the appearance of Benavente and Basa and the safety of the community because the charged offense involves two minors and that there is probable cause that they committed the crime.
Assistant U.S. attorney Rami Badawy, as counsel for the U.S. government, asked the court for the defendants’ continued detention pending trial due to the seriousness of the charges.
If convicted, Benavente faces a minimum of 15 years in prison and up to a maximum of 30 years, while Basa faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to a maximum of life imprisonment.
Defense attorneys Mark Hanson and Steven Pixley, court-appointed counsels for Benavente and Basa respectively, opposed the motion and asked the court to release the defendants to third-party custodians and upon posting bail.
Preliminary hearing will be on Friday, Aug. 30, at 9am.
Benavente, a 43-year-old CNMI firefighter, allegedly took videos of himself having sex with two 15-year-old girls. Basa allegedly offered the girls to Benavente in exchange for methamphetamine or “ice” and money.