Ventura music teacher accused of giving students semen-tainted flutes admits to lewd acts, gets 18 years in prison

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In this 2016 file photo, music teacher John Zeretzke, right, applauds his students after they performed a piece with flutes they built in his class in Lake Forest, Calif. Zeretzke, the founder of an international music program who was accused of giving semen-tainted flutes to California elementary school students, was sentenced to 18 years in state prison, the state attorney's office said Wednesday, July 8, 2020. (Nick Koon/The Orange County Register via Associated Press)

In this 2016 file photo, music teacher John Zeretzke, right, applauds his students after they performed a piece with flutes they built in his class in Lake Forest, Calif. Zeretzke, the founder of an international music program who was accused of giving semen-tainted flutes to California elementary school students, was sentenced to 18 years in state prison, the state attorney’s office said Wednesday, July 8, 2020. (Nick Koon/The Orange County Register via Associated Press)

A music teacher accused of giving students semen-tainted flutes has pleaded guilty to six state counts and was subsequently sentenced to 18 years in prison, the California Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday.

John Edward Zeretzke, 61, admitted to committing lewd acts against five children under the age of 14. He operated Flutes Across the World and, while he lived in Ventura, he taught in schools and other organizations across Southern California. He had also agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge of production of child pornography, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“There is no place in our society for crimes against children,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a news release. “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.”

Zeretzke was indicted last year following an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The indictment alleged that Zeretzke targeted minors between Jan 1 and April 30, 2017.

He still faces a five-count indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, which alleges Zeretzke tried to entice another victim to send him sexually explicit images and that that he allegedly traveled to the Philippines with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with other minor victims, officials said.

Flutes that may have been contaminated with the bodily fluids of a classroom music educator are seen in a photo released by Capistrano Unified School District officials on Sept. 29, 2017.
Flutes that may have been contaminated with the bodily fluids of a classroom music educator are seen in a photo released by Capistrano Unified School District officials on Sept. 29, 2017.

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