A Ventura County music teacher who presented programs in the Santa Ynez Valley now faces a state indictment for committing lewd acts against five minors while he remains under federal indictment for child pornography and exploitation. 

The complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court brings six criminal charges for lewd acts upon children under the age of 14 against John Edward Zeretzke, founder of Flutes Across the World, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Thursday.

“Crimes against children are despicable,” Becerra said. “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,” he said.

Becerra noted an indictment contains charges that are only allegations against a person, and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Specifics of the alleged crimes were not included in the indictment, which states the incidents involved five children and took place in Orange and Los Angeles counties from January through April 2017.

Each count charges that Zeretzky “did willfully, unlawfully and lewdly commit a lewd and lascivious act upon and with the body and certain parts and members thereof of … a child under the age of 14 years with the intent of arousing, appealing to and gratifying (his) lust, passions and sexual desires … .”

However, in announcing the arrest, Becerra said the charges against Zeretzke are not based upon allegations that he personally had physical contact with any child.

Zeretzke was arrested in September 2018 on a federal indictment accusing him of five counts of coercing a minor to produce child pornography, soliciting a child to send him sexually explicit images, receiving/transporting child pornography twice over the internet and traveling to the Philippines intending to engage in sexual conduct with minors between 2015 and 2017.

Following his 2018 arrest, a spokesperson for the California Attorney General's Office confirmed Zeretzke was under investigation but declined to comment on whether it was connected to flutes sent to 13 school districts that were seized in October 2017 by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Department of Justice.

At the time, there were allegations that some of the flutes were contaminated with semen.

Through his Flutes Across the World, Zeretzke taught music at a summer camp and a workshop at a museum in the Santa Ynez Valley.

However, none of the charges are related to programs he provided under contract to Circle V Ranch Camp near Cachuma Lake during one week in each July from 2011 through 2015 nor to a workshop he gave at Wildling Museum in Solvang in May 2014.

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News Editor

Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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