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October 10, 2013

Voice teacher, 32, accused of impregnating pupil, 14

HAVERHILL — A 32-year-old Haverhill voice teacher is held on $50,000 cash bail after police charged him with impregnating a 14-year-old pupil from Amesbury.

He faces a mandatory 10 years in state prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

Police said they began an investigation earlier this year after being notified by the Department of Children and Families about the alleged sexual abuse of a girl by her “voice coach.”

When police spoke with the girl, she denied having a relationship with the teacher and instead pointed to someone she said she had met online. Investigators then 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.

Police charged the teacher, Joshua Garsteck of 170 Washington St., with aggravated rape of a child. Additional charges of impeding a police investigation are pending.

According to prosecutors, the text messages suggested the girl and Garsteck had a sexual relationship reaching back to the start of the year.

Assistant District Attorney Jessica Strasnick brought a 5-inch thick binder of the messages to court yesterday and said there were many more.

Strasnick said the investigation also showed that Garsteck was having online sexual conversations with another juvenile girl.

At a hearing yesterday, Strasnick asked that Garsteck be held on $100,000 cash bail, while defense lawyer Michael Manzi of Lowell suggested $1,000 bail.

Manzi said Garsteck, a Pennsylvania native, is not at risk of fleeing the area, has lived locally for several years and has never been involved with the courts, in Pennsylvania or Massachusetts.

Judge Patricia Dowling set bail at $50,000 cash and said if Garsteck posts bail, he will be under house arrest and must stay away from the victim and off the Internet. The next hearing is Nov. 5.

Strasnick said an investigation began in May after police were notified by the state Department of Children and Families that the girl was several months pregnant, according to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court.

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