EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 14, 2014

Music school owners indicted on charges of child endangerment

By Mike LaBella
mlabella@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — The owners of a popular music school in Haverhill have been indicted on charges of child endangerment in connection with a case in which a former voice teacher was charged with impregnating a 14-year-old pupil.

According to the Essex District Attorney’s Office, Michael DeAngelis and Nancy Burger, co-owners of DeAngelis Studio of Music in Lafayette Square, were indicted on Jan. 2 by an Essex County Grand Jury on one count each of reckless endangerment of a child.

No arraignment date has been scheduled, according to Carrie Kimball-Monahan, spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

The indictment grew out of a case against Joshua Garsteck, who police charged last fall with impregnating a 14-year-old pupil from Amesbury.

According to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court, on May 29 of last year, the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) notified Haverhill police about the alleged sexual abuse of a child by her “voice coach,” Joshua Garsteck.

A DCF investigator told police that Garsteck was teaching at the DeAngelis Studio as a voice instructor and that the victim was his student. The girl was several months pregnant at the time, and according to the police report, told investigators that she stopped going to the music school shortly after learning she was pregnant as it was agreed upon by “everyone” involved that it might disrupt the school’s “image” if she was there and pregnant.

The DCF investigator told police that upon learning of Garsteck’s identity, she contacted the music school and explained that an investigation was being conducted and asked that Garsteck’s interactions with clients be limited to adults.

Police said the school failed to comply with DCF’s request by allowing Garsteck to continue teaching children at the school while he was still under investigation.

When contacted for comment yesterday by The Eagle-Tribune, Nancy Berger said she wanted an opportunity to consult with a lawyer first.

In September, police visited the music school and advised owner Michael DeAngelis of an open criminal investigation into Garsteck’s alleged inappropriate conduct with female students, according to the police report.

DeAngelis denied any direct knowledge of inappropriate behavior by Garsteck but did say that “just this week” a female student had come to him to say Garsteck made inappropriate comments to her, the report stated.

Police said DeAngelis subsequently hired a lawyer and terminated Garsteck’s contract with the school pending the outcome of the investigation. DeAngelis was provided no details as to the specifics of the investigation or the victim, police said.

Police suggested to DeAngelis and his lawyer that the school take some measures to notify students and parents of the concerns that were raised. A student list was requested from them, but they refused to provide one, police said.

Garsteck, a Pennsylvania native, was arraigned in Haverhill District Court in October 2013 on the charge of rape of a child.

He was subsequently indicted by an Essex County Grand Jury on Nov. 27, 2013. He was arraigned Jan. 9 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.

Judge John Lu imposed the same conditions of release that were imposed in Haverhill District Court: $50,000 cash bail, GPS monitoring, 24/7 house arrest, no contact with victim and witnesses, staying 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 in Salem Superior Court last week 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 last week on personal recognizance and was given a 60-day warning, meaning that 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.