Attorney General Becerra Secures Guilty Plea, 18-Year Prison Sentence Against Former Music Teacher John Zeretzke for Committing Lewd Acts Against Minors

Wednesday, July 8, 2020
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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the sentencing of John Zeretzke, a former music teacher from Ventura County, for committing lewd acts against five children under the age of 14. Zeretzke operated Flutes Across the World and taught music lessons in schools and other organizations throughout Southern California. Zeretzke pleaded guilty to six counts and was sentenced to 18 years in state prison.

“There is no place in our society for crimes against children,” said Attorney General Becerra. “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 and we’ll continue to use the full authority of the law to prosecute anyone who exploits children.”

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has long been a champion for children and their safety,” said Patricia Armstrong, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Los Angeles Division. “The sentencing brought today reflects the dedication of law enforcement to stop the exploitation of defenseless victims.”

Zeretzke was indicted last year as the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in coordination with the Attorney General’s Office. In the indictment, the California Department of Justice charged Zeretzke with six felonies for targeting minors between January 1 and April 30, 2017. Zeretzke still faces an outstanding five-count indictment brought by the federal government. The charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California included allegations that Zeretzke attempted to entice another victim to send him sexually explicit images. They also alleged that he traveled to the Philippines with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with other minor victims.

Attorney General Becerra is committed to protecting the safety and well-being of all of California’s residents. Last month, Attorney General Becerra led a multistate lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s final rule weakening protections for survivors of sexual assault under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Last year, he secured a 17-year jail sentence against an El Dorado man responsible for a $2 million financial fraud and elder abuse scheme. Attorney General Becerra has also fought to protect juvenile victims of trafficking, bringing  54 felony charges against the alleged operators of a statewide sex trafficking ring based in Tulare County in 2017.

A copy of the indictment filed previously is available here. The defendant pleaded guilty to six counts.

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