By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — A 32-year-old Haverhill voice teacher who last fall police charged with impregnating a 14-year-old pupil from Amesbury saw his case moved from district court to superior court after he was indicted by a grand jury.
Joshua Garsteck, a Pennsylvania native, was arraigned yesterday in Essex Superior Court in Salem on charges of one count of rape of a child, indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, two counts of disseminating obscene matter to a minor and witness intimidation (misleading a police investigation). A plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf.
Police said they began an investigation early last year after being notified by the Department of Children and Families about the alleged sexual abuse of a girl by her “voice coach.” Police subsequently brought charges against the teacher, Joshua Garsteck of 170 Washington St.
Essex Assistant District Attorney Jessica Strasnick said an investigation began last May after police were notified by DCF that the girl was several months pregnant, according to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court.
The DCF told police Garsteck was a voice instructor with the DeAngelis Studio of Music in Lafayette Square in Haverhill and the victim was a student.
The report said a DCF investigator informed the DeAngelis Studio at that time that Garsteck was under investigation.
When contacted following Garsteck’s arraignment last fall, Nancy Burger, co-owner of DeAngelis Studio, said Garsteck taught there on a contract basis but was no longer with the studio.
Strasnick said the victim initially told investigators the father of the child was someone her own age but ultimately said Garsteck was the father.
Police said investigators obtained a warrant for cell phone records that showed “thousands” of text messages between the voice coach and the victim, many of them sexually graphic.
During Garsteck’s arraignment in Haverhill in October, Strasnick said the messages between Garsteck and the victim were “graphic and sexual.”
“I know we’re familiar with the term ‘sexting,’ but I suggest that ‘sexting’ is a gross understatement for the content of the defendant’s text messages,” she said. “They truly shock the conscience that an adult would text such graphic details to a child.”
Garsteck was indicted by an Essex County Grand Jury on Nov. 27, 2013 on the same charges that he was arraigned on in Haverhill District Court in October. The indictment transfers his case from the District to the Superior Court level, court officials said.
Judge John Lu imposed the same conditions of release yesterday that were imposed in Haverhill: $50,000 cash bail, GPS monitoring, 24/7 house arrest, no contact with victim and witnesses, stay away from all children 18 and under, and no Internet or electronic device use. Court officials said Garsteck had previously posted bail, but remains confined to his home per Judge Lu’s order. Garsteck was represented by Attorney Michael Manzi of Lowell.
Also arraigned yesterday in Salem Superior Court was Lisa Stubbs, a relative of the victim. Stubbs was charged with three counts of witness intimidation (misleading a police investigation) and one count of reckless endangerment of a child. A plea of not guilty was entered on her behalf.
Stubbs was indicted by an Essex County Grand Jury on Nov. 27. She was released yesterday on personal recognizance and was given a 60-day warning, meaning if she is charged with another offense while her case is pending she could be ordered held for up to 60 days without bail.
Stubbs was also ordered to comply with all recommendations of the Department of Children and Families and to have no contact with Garsteck.
Stubbs was represented by Attorney Michael Talty of Lowell.
Essex Assistant District Attorney Jessica Strasnick is prosecuting the case.
Garsteck and Stubbs are both scheduled to appear Feb.18 for a pretrial conference.