Teacher traded lewd photos, videos with girl, police say

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A middle school teacher in Queens, N.Y., has been arrested for sending nude photos of himself to a 15-year-old former student, police said Friday.

Michael Cognato, 35, was also being accused of sending lewd videos to the girl, the New York Daily News reported.

The teacher also persuaded the girl to send lewd videos of herself in return, the newspaper reported, citing information from prosecutors.

“This individual was immediately removed from the school and reassigned away from students, and we will pursue removing him from payroll,” said Michael Aciman, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Education, the newspaper reported.

Cognato is on the faculty at Intermediate School 93 in Queens and is a resident of Bethpage, Long Island. The girl was one of his students when she was in the eighth grade.

After she graduated, Cognato served as her tutor and began communicating with her via Facebook and Skype, according to the report.

The teacher faces charges including promoting a sexual performance by a child.

Cognato began working at the school in 2001 and has no history of misconduct, the education department said.

“This case should serve as a clear and unmistakable warning that law enforcement is prepared to apprehend and prosecute sexual predators,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Information about a lawyer for Cognato was not immediately available.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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