A Los Lunas man charged with 57 counts of sexual exploitation of children and one count of criminal sexual penetration of a minor may be facing additional charges.
During a hearing on Thursday, Magistrate Danny Hawkes agreed to give the district attorney’s office one more week to prepare its case against Thomas Dietrich, 35, before presentation at a preliminary hearing or to a grand jury. Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Garcia requested the “enlargement of time” because of additional information she’s gathered since Dietrich’s arrest on July 8.
Garcia said, after interviewing the victim, the district attorney’s office has learned of several other possible victims related to the case.
“This case requires more time to investigate all the allegations,” Garcia said. She also told Hawkes the district attorney’s office will be ready to present the case to a grand jury by next Wednesday or at a preliminary hearing on Thursday.
According to state statute, the district attorney must either secure a grand jury indictment or present the case at a preliminary hearing within 10 days of a defendant’s arrest.
Dietrich’s defense attorney, Kathleen Rhinehart, argued against the extension of time, saying it would prejudice her client.
“Mr. Dietrich has been held without properly addressing these charges,” she said. “He has no criminal history, he’s been a resident of Valencia County since 1974. The state has had ample opportunity to review and investigate this case.”
After Hawkes granted the state’s motion for additional time, Garcia asked the magistrate to order that Dietrich continue to be held on a $500,000 cash-only bond because of the magnitude of the charges.
Rhinehart disagreed, saying the bond imposed on her client was too high.
“My client expects to defend these charges and to be exonerated,” she said. “I’m asking that this court order a $50,000 cash or surety bond. He’s been in jail for two weeks, and he needs to get back to his life and take care of his own personal matters.
“He has no reason or nowhere to flee, and he wants to disprove these charges.”
Hawkes denied Rhinehart’s request and ordered Dietrich be held until he can post the bond.
Dietrich was arrested and charged earlier this month after a 19-year-old Albuquerque youth alleged to Los Lunas Police Detective James Harris that Dietrich had sexually abused him on numerous occasions. During his investigation, Harris said he found on Dieterich’s home computer 57 pictures that allegedly showed adolescent boys in sexually explicit acts.
Dietrich, who is a former Valencia County Adult Probation and Parole officer, now works for Children Youth and Families as a tenured juvenile correctional officer at Camino Nuevo, a maximum-security juvenile facility in Albuquerque.
According to the criminal complaint, the victim had stayed with Dietrich at his Los Lunas home since he was 13 years old.
“He stated that Mr. Dietrich would purchase expensive items and gifts for him with the expectation of sexual favors,” the criminal complaint said. The teenager also told the police officer Dietrich would “drug him by placing drugs into alcoholic beverages” and then would “forcibly have sexual intercourse with him.”
Dietrich is being held at the Valencia County Adult Detention Center in Los Lunas.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.