Prosecutors are trying to work out a plea deal with a former traveling music teacher accused of federal child abuse charges.
Ventura resident John Zeretzke, 60, was supposed to begin trial on Tuesday before Judge Fernando Olguin in federal court in Los Angeles. According to court records that date was vacated.
“That pre-trial conference was continued to March 6. The parties are still discussing a possible plea resolution,” said Assistant United States Attorney Justin Rhoades.
The parties filed a stipulated request to continue the case on Nov. 26, 2019. A new tentative trial date is set for March 24.
Mr. Zeretzke will remain in the custody of the Theo Lacy Jail in Orange.
On Aug. 28, 2018, Mr. Zeretzke was indicted by a federal grand jury on five counts of child sexual abuse including production and receipt of child pornography, use of a facility of interstate commerce to entice a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, and travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
Mr. Zeretzke allegedly coerced a young girl to produce child pornography, attempted to entice another girl to send him sexually explicit images, traveled to the Philippines with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with other minor victims, and twice received child pornography over the internet.
The indictment claims Mr. Zeretzke used Facebook to ask for explicit pictures from the victims and send explicit material of himself.
He also sent a pair of cowboy boots to one of the victims as a Christmas present, the indictment alleged.
Federal prosecutors say the conversations took place between November 2015 and February 2017.
None of the victims are in Southern California. If convicted of the federal charges Mr. Zeretzke faces 15 years to life in prison.
On March 18, 2019 Mr. Zeretzke was indicted by a grand jury on six state charges for lewd acts on a child. All five victims are alleged to be under the age of 14.
According to a statement released by the state Attorney General’s Office, the alleged abuse occurred between Jan. 1, 2017 and April 30, 2017.
“The charges against Zeretzke are not based upon allegations that he personally had physical contact with any child,” reads the statement.
According to a report from the Orange County Register, a grand jury transcript revealed Mr. Zeretzke allegedly recorded himself ejaculating into flutes that he gave to five elementary school students in Costa Mesa and Castaic.
In 2009, Mr. Zeretzke founded Flutes Across The World, a charitable organization that taught students to make flutes out of PVC pipes.
In 2016, he took the program to the Circle V Ranch camp, but none of the charges involve Santa Barbara County children.