Muleshoe man gets prison time, jury finds he sexually exploited 11-year-old girl

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FILE – In this Nov. 28, 2018, file photo, the Department of Justice seal is seen in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

CORRECTION: Mata-Benavidez was found guilty by a jury.

LUBBOCK, Texas — A Muleshoe man was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in federal prison for a child pornography charge. Felipe Mata-Benavidez, 25, was found guilty of sexually exploiting an 11-year-old girl.

The case was prosecuted in Lubbock.

The following is a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

A Muleshoe, Texas man who sexually exploited an 11-year-old girl was sentenced today to 30 years in federal prison for child pornography, announced Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Prerak Shah.

In April, after two days of trial, a federal jury found 25-year-old Felipe Mata-Benavidez guilty of production of child pornography. He was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix.

According to evidence presented at trial, Mr. Mata-Benavidez attempted to sexually assault an 11-year-old relative at her home in Muleshoe. During the assault, the victim’s mother walked in on Mr. Mata-Benavidez attempting to have sexual intercourse with the minor.

The young girl’s mother stopped the assault and fled the residence with her daughter. A short time later, a concerned neighbor notified law enforcement after hearing about the incident.

The Muleshoe Police Department then interviewed Mr. Mata-Benavidez. He showed detectives his cell phone, which contained his messages with the young girl.

In those messages, Mr. Mata-Benavidez instructed the 11-year-old to send him explicit photographs of herself. When she refused, Mr. Mata-Benavidez bullied the girl until she conceded, texting Mr. Mata-Benavidez a lewd image. He said the child was beautiful and told her not to “share with anybody else… because it’s mine.”

The defendant then continued to ask the 11-year-old to send him more explicit images.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office, Lubbock Resident Agency, the Muleshoe Police Department, and Homeland Security Investigations – Lubbock Computer Forensic Analysts conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Callie Woolam and Matthew McLeod prosecuted the case.

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