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Ventura County

Former Ventura music teacher pleads guilty to producing child pornography

VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - A former music teacher with ties to Santa Barbara and Ventura County schools has pleaded guilty to a federal child pornography charge.

This latest charge against John Edward Zeretzke comes one month after the 61-year-old Ventura man pleaded guilty in Orange County Superior Court to six state counts. All involved committing lewd or lascivious acts with minors under the age of 14 years old.

This recent case is a part of Project Safe Childhood, the Justice Department’s ongoing initiative to combat the plague of child exploitation crimes.

Details of the latest plea agreement reveal Zeretzke used a computer and the internet to communicate with a female minor. The Ventura man coerced the girl -- who lived outside California -- into producing child pornography between December 2016 and February 2017. 

The United States Postal Inspection Service, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Special Victims Bureau were involved in the investigation.

Back in July, the former operator of Flutes Across the World was sentenced to 18 years in state prison. 

Zeretzke's sentencing hearing is set for December 3, at which time he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.

Federal prosecutors, under the direction of Assistant United States Attorney Justin R. Rhoades, are recommending an 18-year federal prison sentence run concurrently with his state prison sentence.

The NewsChannel team first interviewed Zeretzke back in 2014, when he taught local campers in the Santa Ynez Valley; the first charges were filed against him in 2018.

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3.