LOS LUNAS — Early Saturday morning, New Mexico State Police arrested a Los Lunas High School coach who has been charged with 14 counts of sexual crimes against a minor.
Initially, Johnathon M. Bindues, 30, of Los Lunas, was charged with three counts of sexual exploitation of a child, third-degree felonies; and three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, fourth-degree felonies.
Bindues, the LLHS girls’ track and field head coach and an assistant coach with the girls’ basketball team, was arrested and charged with the first six counts on Saturday, July 17, after a woman discovered her 15-year-old daughter was having sexually explicit text conversations with Bindues.
After a forensic safe house interview on Tuesday, July 20, Bindues was charged with an additional four counts of criminal sexual penetration and four counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor, all second-degree felonies.
Bindues was booked into the Valencia County Detention Center in Los Lunas after his arrest, where he was still in custody as of Wednesday, July 21. Bindues made his first appearance in court Wednesday afternoon before Belen Magistrate John Chavez.
After the charges and criminal complaint were read to Bindues, Chavez said while he would typically set conditions of release at a first appearance, in this case the judge said he didn’t feel the court had sufficient information to guarantee the safety of the victim or community. Bindues remained in custody until a hearing for conditions of release before Chavez at 1 p.m., Thursday, July 22.
Chavez ordered Bindues released on a $50,000 unsecured bond on Thursday, after Assistant District Attorney James Sousa said the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s office was still exploring whether to file a pretrial detention motion in the case.
When asked what conditions of release the state would like to see imposed, Sousa said the DA’s office would like to see Bindues continue to be held and began to list off the charges against him.
“I’m well aware of the charges,” Chavez said, cutting off the prosecutor. “There has not been a pretrial detention motion filed, and now the court has to set conditions of release.”
Sousa recommended release with a reasonable bond in relation to the charges.
In addition to the bond, the judge ordered Bindues not to return to Los Lunas High School and to stay away from the victim’s home. He must remain within the boundaries of Valencia and Bernalillo counties. Once released, Bindues will be placed on a GPS monitor to ensure he complies with those conditions.
“I am also ordering you to not disclose the victim’s name. I will consider that a serious breach and revoke your release,” Chavez told the defendant.
Bindues is also not allowed to use electronic devices or social media as part of his conditions of release.
Chavez said he would place the order detailing the conditions of release under seal to protect the victim’s address.
A preliminary hearing for Bindues is scheduled for 9 a.m., Monday, Aug. 30, in Belen Magistrate Court.
Los Lunas Schools Superintendent Dr. Arsenio Romero said the state police contacted him about 1:30 a.m., Saturday, to inform him of the arrest of the district employee.
“I can’t really comment because this will be a personnel issue. Right now, I can confirm state police have arrested a Los Lunas Schools employee,” Romero said Saturday afternoon.
Since Bindues has been in custody at the Valencia County Detention Center since early Saturday morning, Romero said no one from the district has been able to speak to him.
“We are waiting on more information from the state police. We’ve asked for the report and other details,” Romero said.
The superintendent said typically when an employee is arrested, they are put on administrative leave pending the outcome of investigations by law enforcement and the district.
“After that, they could possibly be subject to dismissal,” he said.
Bindues was hired as an assistant coach for the girls’ track and field team in March 2017. In October of that same year, he became an assistant coach for the LLHS girls’ basketball team.
In January 2019, he became the head coach for the girls’ track and field team. Romero said Bindues is a contracted coach and is not a teacher for the district.
“Los Lunas Schools cares about the safety and security of all our students,” Romero said. “If a student is ever in need of counseling services, please call 505-866-8361 to access those resources.”
State police were contacted Friday, July 16, to investigate the mother’s report of sexually explicit text messages between Bindues and her daughter, as well as pictures and videos sent to him.
According to the affidavit for the arrest warrant, NMSP investigators were able to search the girl’s cell phone and school-issued laptop, which confirmed the conversations, pictures and videos.
“The phone number Jane Doe was texting was confirmed to be that of Mr. Bindues through investigative means. The same phone number is also displayed on marketing signage utilized by Mr. Bindues’ employment as a realtor,” the court affidavit reads. Bindues’ telephone number was also the same one used in group text messages sent to members of the basketball team, the affidavit notes.
In a three-day period — from June 13 to June 15 — text conversations between Bindues and the girl led her to send videos and pictures of herself to the coach.
In the amended probable cause statement, the girl disclosed on Tuesday, July 20, to NMSP investigators she had sex with Bindues on three separate occasions, the last time as recently as three weeks ago.
The first time was in the equipment room at the LLHS track facility after practice. The second time they had sex was in a spare bedroom at Bindues’ house, where his niece stays, court records state.
“Jane Doe described the room as being pink in color and there were kid’s toys in the room,” according to the probably cause statement. The second time he had sex with her at his house was in the bathroom.
An arrest warrant was issued for Bindues on Friday, July 16, and he was arrested without incident at a home in Los Lunas in the early morning hours of Saturday, July 17.
In the press release about the arrest, NMSP stated the name of the juvenile victim will not be released by the agency.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.