Washington man who posed as 15-year-old and posted sex videos of underage girls gets 20 years in prison


A Washington man was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for posing as a 15-year-old boy on Snapchat, traveling to Portland and recording himself having sex with underage girls he met on the app and then posting the videos on his Snapchat Stories page.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon struggled to understand what drove Rolando Daniel Benitez to commit such a crime.

Benitez, now 30, said he couldn’t explain it.

“I’m trying to figure out how I came to do these things,” he told Simon as he stood in front of the judge with his parents, a sister and brother seated in the courtroom behind him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Sussman urged a 23-year prison term, citing Benitez’s “predatory and repetitive” conduct.

Posing as a 15-year-old named “Marcos,” when he was actually in his mid- to late 20s at the time, Benitez traveled from Seattle to Portland to have sex with multiple girls in 2019, according to Sussman. Benitez allowed girls to join and view his Snapchat Stories only if they sent him photos of their nude breasts or buttocks, the prosecutor said.

A Portland police detective initiated an investigation in late 2019 after reviewing a tip made to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by one of the victims. She was 17 at the time she met up with Benitez and told investigators that she knew he was having sex with other girls based on the videos he posted on his Snapchat Stories, according to court records.

Another victim, who was 15 at the time, met Benitez when he picked her up in a red car and they had sex in the back seat of the car, parked along a gravel road between Portland International Airport and the Columbia River, according to Sussman. A video Benitez took of the encounter ended up on his Snapchat Story, according to the prosecutor.

Police obtained a warrant to search Benitez’s Snapchat account and his phone. They found thousands of sexually explicit images of children in his iCloud account, according to court records.

In January 2020, Benitez was arrested in Auburn, Washington, after having sex with a 12-year-old girl he had met on Snapchat, according to Sussman. He picked her up down the road from her house, had sex with her in the back seat of his car and recorded it, according to the prosecutor.

Police later found a copy of the video on his phone. He also sent the girl the video, according to Sussman.

Benitez was sentenced in Washington state court to just over 11 years in prison for the rape of the 12-year-old girl, Sussman said.

In federal court, Benitez pleaded guilty to two counts of sexually exploiting children and one count of possessing child pornography.

Benitez’s older sister, Adriana Benitez, spoke to the judge by video during her brother’s sentencing.

“My brother is not a monster,” she said, adding that she and her siblings and their parents are having trouble processing what he did.

Since his arrest, Benitez said he has learned how he has hurt others and said that was never his intention.

One of the victims told the judge she was 14 when she met up with Benitez. She said she endured bullying and harassment once he posted a video of her on Snapchat, drank herself numb and considered ending her life.

“It wasn’t your fault,” the judge responded. “None of this was your fault.”

Simon said Benitez’s substantial sentence reflects a need to protect the most vulnerable in the community.

“Our society will not tolerate this type of abuse of children that has such long-term, lifelong implications for those victims,” he said.

The 20-year federal prison term will run at the same time with his sentence in Washington.