State prosecutors have indicted a music instructor from Ventura accused of distributing flutes contaminated with bodily fluids to Southern California school children, following a federal indictment alleging child molestation last year, officials announced Thursday.
John Edward Zeretzke, 60, was arrested Tuesday and booked into jail in Orange County on Tuesday, county booking records show.
He faces six charges of committing lewd acts on children under 14 years old, the California Attorney General’s Office said in a written statement.
The state charges are separate from a five-count federal indictment filed against Zeretzke in September alleging he coerced a minor to produce child pornography, attempted to entice a minor to send him sexually explicit images, received child pornography online and travelled to the Philippines with intent to engage in sex with minors, U.S. Attorney’s Office Thom Mrozek said at the time.
But allegations that flutes distributed to area students through his organization, “Flutes Across the World,” had been tainted with semen by Zeretke, were not part of the federal case, authorities said. That investigation is being handled by by the California Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The California Attorney General’s office obtained an indictment last month charging Zeretzke with a half-dozen counts of child molestation.
“Attorney General Becerra’s indictment alleges that between January 1, 2017 and April 30, 2017, Zeretzke targeted five victims under the age of 14,” the California DOJ said in a written statement. “The charges against Zeretzke are not based upon allegations that he personally had physical contact with any child.”
Through his organization, Zeretke worked with school districts including the Los Angeles Unified, Saugus Union, Capistrano Unified, Fountain Valley, Culver City, Newport-Mesa and Fullerton, the L.A. Times reported.
He would make two flutes with students out of PVC pipe. The students would keep one, and the other was to be donated to children in need, according to the organization’s website, which has since been pulled offline. Many of the flutes were sent to the Philippines, where the organization maintained a presence.
Schools dropped the program once allegations began to emerge that some of the student’s flutes had been contaminated with semen.
Zeretzke was released from custody on bond five days after his Sept. 13 arrest in the federal case, federal booking records show.
Bail was set at at $600,000 following his arrest Tuesday in connection with the state-level indictment, according to county records.
“Crimes against children are despicable,” Becerra said in a written statement. “Schools must represent a safe environment for our students. 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.”