John Zeretzke, a music teacher from Ventura County who taught music lessons in schools and other organizations throughout Southern California, including Saugus Union School District schools, has been indicted on charges of committing lewd acts against five minors, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced in a news release Thursday.
However, no SUSD students were known to be part of the investigation of Zeretzke’s alleged crimes in early 2017, according to an FAQ on the investigation, posted for parents on the district’s website in late September 2017.
Filed on March 18 of this year in Orange County Superior Court, Becerra’s complaint brings six criminal charges against Zeretzke, 60, for lewd acts upon five children under the age of 14, with additional special circumstances charges because the alleged offenses were against more than one victim.
The indictment alleges that between January 1, 2017, and April 30, 2017, Zeretzke targeted five female victims under the age of 14.
Identified as Jane Does 1 through 5, two of the alleged victims are from Orange County, and three are from Los Angeles County.
The charges against Zeretzke are not based upon allegations that he personally had physical contact with any child, according to the AG’s news release.
A copy of the indictment can be found here.
“Crimes against children are despicable. Schools must represent a safe environment for our students,” Becerra said in a statement. “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.”
Zeretzke, pictured at left in 2009, was arrested by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department on April 10 and is being held at Orange County Jail in Santa Ana, according to an email Friday from Jennifer Molina in Becerra’s office.
The case will be tried in Orange County Superior Court, where the complaint was filed.
“His defense is the Orange County Public Defender’s Office,” Molina wrote. “Bail was set at $600,000. We cannot comment further at this time due to grand jury rules.”
Zeretzke operated a music education organization called Flutes Across the World and allegations surfaced in fall 2017 that flutes he provided to children in some of his music classes had been contaminted with semen.
Zeretzke’s April 10 arrest was the result of an investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s office in coordination with the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Separately, Zeretzke is also facing a five-count indictment from the federal government.
The U.S. Attorney’s charges include allegations that Zeretzke attempted to entice another victim to send him sexually explicit images.
They also allege that Zeretzke traveled to the Philippines with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with other minor victims.
It is important to note that an indictment contains charges that are only allegations against a person, and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, Becerra’s news release concluded.