A ex-Queens middle school teacher, who shared sexually explicit pictures with a student, will spend six months behind bars, according to authorities. 35-year-old Michael Cognato will also be on probation for 10 years.
The former math teacher sent both nude videos and pictures to a 15-year-old girl, while also convincing her to send the same back to him over a three month period in 2017. Congnato used to be an instructor at I.S. 93 in Ridgewood, and pleaded guilty in March to charges including attempted use of a child in a sexual performance.
Cognato taught the teenager while she was an eighth grader and they stayed in touch afterwards as she went to high school; Police say he tutored the young girl and communicated with her through Facebook messenger and Skype, according to police.
The once-teacher resigned from the Department of Education and surrendered his state teaching license after pleading guilty. He will have to register as a sex offender and will remain on the state registry for the rest of his life.
Michael has already served approximately four months of his sentence. Earlier in his case, he was remanded for being in contact with the victim following his arrest–his attorney, Scott Gross, insists the contrary saying, “the evidence suggested she reached out to him on numerous occasions.”
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said about the case, “He preyed on this young student whom he had once been entrusted to teach. This case should serve as a clear and unmistakable warning that parents must be mindful of the people their children communicate with online.”