Warning: This article contains graphic details that some readers may find annoying.
The founder of an international music program who was accused of giving California elementary students flutes contaminated with sperm was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Wednesday, the Attorney General said.
Ventura 61-year-old John Zeretzke was convicted in the Orange County Superior Court after pleading guilty to six acts of indecent assault on five girls under the age of 14.
Zeretzke was a teaching artist for the Los Angeles Music Center for more than 30 years. During this time, he shared music lessons with students in schools in Southern California.
In 2009, he founded Flutes Across the World, through which he signed contracts with schools to help children craft and decorate PVC pipe flutes. The nonprofit also participated in mission tours to share music classes in countries like Haiti, Honduras and the Philippines.
Prosecutors said Zeretzke ejaculated in flutes in 2017, which were then distributed to five girls at primary schools in Southern California. He is then accused of taking pictures of the girls with the flutes.
That year, the California authorities began investigating reports of corrupt flutes. In some districts, parents were asked to put the flutes in paper bags and hand them over to the authorities for testing.
No evidence of sperm was found until the flutes were collected and tested, the prosecutors said in court.
"There is no room for crimes against children in our society," said California Attorney General Becerra. "We will not tolerate this type of behavior in our schools or anywhere in our state."
Zeretzke is still facing five federal charges that did not involve children from Southern California. The East Bay Times has reported that he has agreed to plead guilty to producing child pornography while the other charges must be dropped.
Zeretzke should plead guilty to the US District Court on October 20.