UTPD files charges against former UT student for burglary of habitation and indecent assault

Sheryl Lawrence

Trigger warning: This article discusses incident of sexual assault and harrasment.

Support is available for anyone affected by sexual assault, interpersonal violence (including domestic and dating violence), stalking, sexual harassment and sex discrimination by emailing [email protected].  

The UT Police Department filed charges against former UT sophomore Rolando Benavides Thursday for making unlawful entry into three unlocked and unoccupied rooms in Jester East and West Residence Hall and performing indecent acts with residents’ possessions, according to a UTPD news release

Benavides, who was a Jester East resident, stole Jester residents’ possessions, committed sexual acts with their property and posted photos of his behavior on a public fetish website, according to the release. There have been requests made to the website to take down the posted photos, said UTPD Lt. Eric Johanson.

UTPD filed charges Thursday around noon against Benavides for two felony burglary of habitations and indecent assault. The Travis County District Court set bond stipulations to include a GPS monitor, no contact order with the victims and he is not allowed within 200 yards of University property, according to Johanson. 

After receiving an anonymous report on April 13 of burglaries involving sexually deviant behavior at Jester Residence Hall, UTPD identified the suspect within hours, held an investigation and filed the charges Thursday for the first six victims, according to the news release

Johanson said there were initially six victims identified from the incident on April 13, and upon further investigation there were two more victims identified at the end of last week from a separate incident.  

“The way that the crimes were committed, it’s very likely that victims may not be aware that they were victimized,” Johanson said. “We’re going to have to rely on the processing of some digital evidence to try to help identify more victims. It’s likely that there’s more, but we certainly hope not.”

Johanson said someone anonymously reported the crime by sending UTPD the posts Benavides made. Johanson said the reporter either recognized the dorm room or knew Benavides. Benavides was initially identified through Wi-Fi data, Johanson said. UTPD issued a search warrant on April 16 for people who accessed the website the incident was posted on and used other evidence to further identify Benavides, said Johanson.

“He did include some photographs that he had taken of the actual victims,” Johanson said. “Victims that have posted pictures of themselves and their friends on the walls of their dorm rooms.”

Johanson said UTPD compared the posts to photographs obtained through a search warrant, and found that “very specific characteristics on his body were absolute matches.” 

Within two hours of identifying Benavides, UTPD conducted an interview with him. Benavides then left campus and has since withdrawn from the University, according to the news release.

University spokesperson J.B. Bird said the suspect has not been on campus since the day the UTPD investigation began. Bird said because of FERPA requirements and the ongoing investigation, the University cannot provide additional details at this time. 

“Our priority is the safety and well-being of our campus community, and while the responsibility for any crime rests with the perpetrator, we remind people to lock their doors both when they are home and not home,” Bird said in an email. 

This remains an active investigation, according to the news release. UTPD is requesting that if anyone knows anything about the investigation or believes they may be a victim to call UTPD at 512-471-4441 and use extension 9 or email them at [email protected].