A Drew County jury sentenced Michael Binns Sr. to 45 years in prison Thursday afternoon for sexually assaulting two former students. The 57-year-old former Monticello School District choir director was convicted of two counts of second-degree sexual assault and one count of introducing a controlled substance into the body of another person.
During the two-day trial, a 19-year-old male and a 16-year-old male graphically described the events that occurred on the evening of November 12, 2010 when they went to his home to celebrate the younger boy’s sixteenth birthday.
Binns was charged with two counts of rape, one count for each boy, and two counts of introducing a controlled substance into the body of another person.
The jury, however, convicted Binns of two counts of the lesser crime of sexual assault and one of the drugging charges. He received the maximum penalty, 20 years each, for the two sexual assault counts. He received a mid-range penalty of five years for a single drugging charge.
Circuit Judge Sam Pope accepted the jury’s recommendation and ordered all three sentences to run consecutively. Binns will be eligible for parole after serving one-sixth of his sentence.
The jury had an option to give Binns a prison sentence of 5 to 20 years and/or a fine up to $15,000 for each sexual assault count. It had the option to give him a 3 to 10 year sentence and/or a fine up to $10,000 for introducing a controlled substance into the body of another person.
During the sentencing phase of the trial, Binns’ attorney did not make a recommendation but implied that he would like to see the jury fine Binns rather than sentence him to prison.
Tenth Judicial District Prosecutor Frank Spain urged the jury to give Binns a prison sentence.
“He used his position of trust and authority to get them to come to his house and do these things,” Spain told the jury. “This isn’t like breaking into someone’s home and stealing something.”
Spain urged the jury to assess a prison sentence. Referring to testimony by the oldest of the two victims that what occurred made him feel less of a man, Spain told the jury, “People are always going to see them differently.They’re always going to be apart from the rest of the community.”
He also urged the jury to recommend the sexual assault sentences to run consecutive because it involved two crimes against two different people.