A Los Lunas man charged with 57 counts of sexual exploitation of children and one count of criminal sexual penetration of a minor is in jail on a $500,000 cash-only bond.

Thomas Dietrich, 35, was arrested and charged after a teenage boy told Los Lunas Detective James Harris that Dietrich had sexually abused him on numerous occasions. According to the statement of probable cause filed in magistrate court, police allege they also found on Dietrich’s home computer 57 pictures that appear to be of adolescent boys engaged in sexual acts.

Dietrich entered a not guilty plea at his first court appearance Tuesday morning. Magistrate Court Judge Danny Hawkes ordered the Los Lunas man to be held on the $500,000 cash-only bond.

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.

Harris’s investigation began on May 30 when Dietrich, a former Valencia County adult probation and parole officer, reported someone had burglarized his home on Vista Centro in Los Lunas. As a result of the investigation, Harris made contact with an Albuquerque teenager.

During the interview, Harris asked the teenager if he knew Dietrich. The teenager told the detective that Dietrich had tried to rape him, the statement of probable cause said.

“I asked him (the teenager) to explain that statement and he stated that from the time he was 13, he had spent time with Mr. Dietrich on numerous occasions, and that Mr. Dietrich continuously attempted to make sexual advances towards him,” the probable cause statement said. “He further stated that on numerous occasions, Mr. Dietrich has taken nude or sexually explicit pictures of him with a digital camera without his consent, and that he has sodomized him on at least one occasion.”

Harris claims that during a second interview, the teenage boy told him he met Dietrich at the juvenile detention center.

“When he (the teenager) got out of the detention center, he went and stayed with Mr. Dietrich due to the fact that his parents were unable to help him,” the statement of probable cause said. “He stated that Mr. Dietrich would purchase expensive items and gifts for him with the expectation of sexual favors.”

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.”

According to the statement of probable cause, Harris obtained a search warrant for Dietrich’s home where he seized a personal computer and several computer discs. The Los Lunas detective turned the computer over to a U.S. Secret Service agent for search and analysis.

Last week, the agent reported back to Harris with 79 pages of information and pictures obtained from Dietrich’s computer.

“Upon my review of the report, I noted a total of 57 pictures that appear to be of adolescent boys,” Harris wrote in the statement of probable cause. “These pictures are sexually explicit and depict sexual acts.”

Romaine Serna, the spokeswoman for CYFD, said the department was aware of the initial investigation and was just waiting for the final outcome of the police investigation.

“This is of great concern to the CYFD,” Serna said. “The department does not condone this type of criminal behavior.”

Dietrich has been placed on administrative leave from his job, but Serna said couldn’t elaborate on Dietrich’s future employment with CYFD.

“We plan on taking the necessary actions,” Serna said.

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin, as well as the executive editor of El Defensor Chieftain, the News-Bulletin's sister paper in Socorro.
Clara 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.