By Gina Martinez
RIDGEWOOD — A Ridgewood middle school teacher has admitted to sexting a student and faces a jail sentence, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Michael Cognato, 35, of Bethpage, L.I., pleaded guilty in the attempted use of a child in a sexual performance and second-degree criminal contempt in Queens Criminal Court last week, according to Brown.
Cognato, a math teacher at IS 93, engaged in sexually explicit communications with a 15-year-old girl who had once been his student, receiving sexually explicit photos and videos of her, Brown said.
“He preyed on this young student whom he had once been entrusted to teach,” he said. “This case should serve as a clear and unmistakable warning that parents must be mindful of the people their children communicate with online. And let this be a warning to sexual predators that law enforcement is prepared to pursue you just as diligently as you go after young, innocent children.”
As part of his plea agreement, Cognato has resigned from the New York City Department of Education, surrendered his New York state teaching license and must successfully complete a sex offender program. He will also be subject to the Sexual Offender Registration Act.
Cognato admitted that from July 2017 to September 2017, he engaged in sexually explicit conversations with the victim — who was 15 years-old at the time — and convinced her to send him sexually explicit videos of herself, Brow said.
He also admitted to violating the order of protection by contacting the victim following his arrest, according to Brown.
Cognato faces six months in jail and 10 years probation at his May 3 sentencing.
— Gina Martinez