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Long IslandCrime

Teacher from Bethpage sentenced for sex chat with former student

Michael Cognato pleaded guilty to related charges in March. Queens DA says case is a reminder to parents to monitor their children’s online activity.

A math teacher from Bethpage who engaged in raunchy chats with a 15-year-old former student he persuaded to send sexually explicit photos was sentenced Tuesday to 6 months in jail and 10 years’ probation, said the Queens district attorney.

Michael Cognato, 35, who taught math at IS 93 in the Ridgewood section of Queens, was sentenced by Queens Criminal Court Judge Gia Morris, said District Attorney Richard A. Brown in a news release.

Cognato had pleaded guilty in March to attempted use of a child in a sexual performance and second-degree criminal contempt. He resigned from the New York City Department of Education and surrendered his New York State teaching license as part of the plea deal, officials said.

“This defendant’s actions are very troublesome,” Brown said. “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. 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.”

Cognato’s attorney, Scott Gross of Garden City, said his client “has taken responsibility for his conduct and he is looking forward to putting this case behind him.”

Brown said Cognato admitted engaging in sexually explicit conversation with the victim, who was 15 at the time, between July 2017 and September 2017. He also persuaded her to send him sexually explicit videos and photographs of herself.

In addition, prosecutors said, Cognato admitted violating an order of protection by contacting the victim following his arrest in October 2017.

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