A music teacher from Ventura County who gave flute lessons throughout Southern California, including two school districts in Santa Clarita, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for multiple counts of lewd acts on children, officials said Wednesday.
John Zeretzke, 61, who operated the music education organization “Flutes Across the World,” was arrested in Orange County on April 10, 2019, after an investigation stemming from allegations made in the fall of 2017, according to California Attorney General’s Office.
The suspect is being charged in two courts: on the state level with the California A.G.’s Office and on the federal level with United States Attorney’s Office.
On Wednesday, Zeretzke pleaded guilty to six counts of lewd acts on children and was sentenced to 18 years in prison according to the California Attorney General’s Office.
“There is no place in our society for crimes against children,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We will not tolerate this kind of behavior in our schools or anywhere in our state. Our students deserve to be able to learn in a safe environment and we’ll continue to use the full authority of the law to prosecute anyone who exploits children.”
Last week, Zeretzke agreed to plead guilty to one federal count of production of child pornography and six state charges of lewd acts with a minor under 14, according to the plea agreement obtained by KHTS.
See Related: Music Teacher Agrees To Plead Guilty In Case Of Giving Semen-Tainted Flutes To Children
As part of the federal plea deal, Zeretzke must register as a sex offender and participate in a psychological counseling program.
The suspect was indicted last year as the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in coordination with the Attorney General’s Office. In the indictment, the California Department of Justice charged Zeretzke with six felonies for targeting minors between Jan.1 and April 30, 2017.
Zeretzke still faces an outstanding five-count indictment brought by the federal government. The charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California included allegations that Zeretzke attempted to entice another victim to mail him sexually explicit images via the U.S. Postal Service. They also alleged that he traveled to the Philippines with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with other minor victims, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.
His organization operated with many schools within both the Castaic Union School District and the Saugus Union School District, according to a 2017 letter to parents.
“The performer distributes a flute-like musical instrument made of PVC pipe or bamboo to students during a music lesson, and the allegation is that he contaminated some of these instruments with semen,” wrote then-SUSD Superintendent Joan Lucid in 2017.
Additionally, CUSD officials reported in 2017 that Zeretzke had been at Live Oaks, Castaic, and North Hills Elementary for assemblies between 2015 and 2017.
Zeretzke is accused of recording video of himself tainting the flutes with semen which he distributed in 2017 to three girls at Castaic Elementary, according to a portion of a grand jury transcript obtained by the Southern California News Group.
“Crimes against children are despicable. Schools must represent a safe environment for our students,” Attorney General Becerra said in the 2019 statement. “No parent should fear for the safety and security of their child at school. We will work relentlessly to hold people who exploit our children criminally accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
On Oct. 8, Zeretzke is expected to appear in court for a change of plea hearing to formally plead guilty to the charges, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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