Santa Ana police announced Monday they were assisting with an investigation into how a collection of flute-like musical instruments used by children in a music class at the Bowers Kidseum were contaminated with “bodily fluids,” which some reports indicate may be semen.
The state Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are leading the investigation, which also involves several Orange County school districts where similar classes were taught.
The instruments that were contaminated were recorders, which are played like flutes. Santa Ana police have identified about 55 children who took a class at Bowers Kidseum on June 27 and 28 and July 22, according to police, who said an independent contractor hired by Bowers taught the class.
Detectives have contacted most of the parents and the 11 recorders have been rounded up, police said.
Anyone who took a class at the Kidseum on those dates is asked to call investigators at (714) 245-8351.
Earlier, authorities reported contaminated instruments were delivered to elementary school students in at least three Orange County school districts.
Emails were sent to parents of students Friday notifying them of the investigation regarding the flutes given to them by an instructor who also is under investigation.
The instructor, who was not identified, is an independent contractor, the Orange County Register reported. The suspect wasn’t an employee of the affected Orange County districts and worked at multiple school districts in Southern California, according to the newspaper.
District officials said the flutes were made of PVC plastic piping and a single wine cork and had an exterior that could be decorated.
“We were informed that an independent contractor who provided a music enrichment program to the fifth-grade classes at Courreges Elementary School, in June 2017 gave the students flutes/recorders that were potentially contaminated with bodily fluids,” Fountain Valley School District Superintendent Mark Johnson wrote in an email obtained by the Register.
Johnson wrote that the flutes possibly went to children who participated in the Flutes Across the World Program and that Courreges Elementary was the only site in his district that may have been affected.
The California Department of Justice is investigating the suspect, as is the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, though it was immediately unclear why, according to the newspaper.
Similar messages went to families of students at Sonora Elementary School in Costa Mesa and the Capistrano Unified School District, though the affected schools weren’t specified there.
Officials from some districts asked that families who find the flutes take them from the child’s possession and place them in a sealed paper bag to possibly preserve evidence, according to the Register.
Fountain Valley police Sgt. Kham Vang told the newspaper that the department was collecting the flutes at its station at 10200 Slater Ave.
Capistrano Unified School District officials were working with law enforcement to determine how to collect the instruments, which are considered by the district to be “inappropriate and unsanitary” for a child to have contact with, according to The Register.
— City News Service