Music teacher tied to semen contaminated flutes pleads guilty to child pornography charges

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A music teacher accused of giving flutes contaminated with semen to elementary school students has agreed to plead guilty to state and federal charges involving various sex crimes against children, authorities said on Wednesday.

John Edward Zeretzke, 61, of Ventura has agreed to plead guilty to one federal charge of producing child pornography, as well as six counts of obscene or lascivious acts with minors under the age of 14.

Zeretzke pleaded not guilty to charges against the state in April 2019. The Orange County registry reported that prosecutors accused Zeretzke for recording herself ejaculating on flutes which were then distributed to five girls at elementary schools in Los Angeles and Orange counties; he then took pictures of the girls using the flutes. Court records show that the alleged violations occurred between January and April 2017.

Federal charges against Zeretzke in June 2018 included five counts of child sex crimes. The Times reported in September 2018 that none of the victims involved in the federal charges were local.

As part of the plea deal, the Central District of California agreed to dismiss all but one of the federal charges. These dismissed charges can still be considered when Zeretzke is convicted.

Zeretzke’s attorney, Federal Defense Lawyer Julia Brett Deixler, did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The plea deal obtained by The Times details the federal charge to which Zeretzke agreed to plead guilty.

Between December 2016 and February 2017, the deal says Zeretzke communicated with a girl under the age of 16, expressing romantic interest in her. He sent her money through relatives in the Philippines and requested sexually explicit images of her. He also used his computer to capture sexually explicit images of her during a video chat.

Schools across the state opened in Zeretzke for years as he taught music lessons to thousands of children. For more than 30 years, Zeretzke was a teaching artist for the Music Center in Los Angeles, where he shared music lessons with students. The Times described such a lesson in 1998.

In 2009, Zeretzke founded Flutes Across the World, a non-profit organization through which he contracted with schools to help children make and decorate PVC flutes. The association also participated in mission trips to share music lessons in countries such as Haiti, Honduras and the Philippines.

School children participating in the program would make two flutes: one for themselves and one for a child in need. In the latter case, students were filling out kind messages to share with their overseas peers. In 2017, authorities warned parents in seven California school districts of the potential contamination of the flutes their children received.


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