Former SCV music teacher pleads guilty to child pornography charge

Flutes decorated by Santa Clarita Valley students who participated in the “Flutes Across the World” program with a music teacher who is being investigated for placing bodily fluids on the handmade flutes. Photos courtesy of Facebook

A former music teacher who taught a handful of clinics at Santa Clarita Valley schools has pleaded guilty to one federal count of producing child pornography. 

John Edward Zeretzke, 61, of Ventura, is the founder of Flutes Across the World, a contracting company that taught music to children throughout the country, including in Southern California and Santa Clarita.

“Mr. Zeretzke pleaded guilty today to one count of production of child pornography,” said Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin scheduled a Dec. 3 sentencing hearing.”

Earlier this year, Zeretzke pleaded guilty to one federal count of producing child pornography and six state counts of lewd acts with a child under the age of 14.

In a Feb. 5 agreement, Zeretzke pleaded guilty to engaging in explicit conduct via video chat with a 16-year-old living in the Philippines. The state of California also alleged the music teacher filmed himself in 2017 ejaculating into five flutes that he eventually distributed to five girls under the age of 14.

Following Zeretzke’s arrest three years ago and during the preliminary stages of the investigation, both the Saugus Union School District and Castaic Union School District wrote to parents about the investigation into the music teacher both districts had used.

“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,” SUSD Superintendent Joan Lucid said in an email to parents. “These allegations are deeply concerning, and I realize they raise many questions.”

Flutes Across America and/or Zeretzke visited seven Saugus District schools — Bridgeport, James Foster, Mountainview, North Park, Rosedell, Tesoro del Valle and West Creek — and three Castaic Union School District schools: Castaic Elementary, Live Oak Elementary and Northlake Hills Elementary.

Both districts at the time confirmed that students were never left alone with the individual being investigated and students were never without teacher supervision.

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