Naval Special Warfare commander Rear Adm. Timothy Szymanski has given permission for a preliminary investigation, but it has not been decided whether there will be Article 32 proceedings, which are similar to a grand jury hearing for civilians.
Michael Waddington, Benevento’s criminal defense attorney, maintained his client’s innocence on Friday, writing in an email to the San Diego Tribune, "LT Benevento is not guilty and we intend to fight these false allegations to the end."
"This case was investigated by local authorities and they declined to prosecute. Now, the Navy is on a witch hunt", he said.
Benevento is not in detention.
Military records show that Benevento joined the service in 2006 and was on the roster of the Naval Special Warfare Command when he was charged with rape.
SEAL Team Five Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Irving is also facing a court martial for the alleged 2015 rape of a woman in San Diego, and Petty Officer 1st Class Gregory Kyle Seerden of SEAL Team One was extradited to Virginia from California in April for allegedly filming himself with his mobile phone molesting a child.
According to an online biography, Benevento has been awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal, two Joint Service Achievement Medals and two Marine Corps and Navy Achievement Medals.