Child Pornography Arrest Stirs Previous Allegation Against Therapist

A Manhattan psychotherapist arrested last week on child pornography charges was fired in 1996 from his job as a social worker for New York City public schools, after an investigation by the school district.

The psychotherapist, James F. Bonczek, 58, was arrested on Thursday morning after the police found more than 2,000 computer images of child pornography, the authorities said. A maintenance worker fixing a leak in Mr. Bonczek’s Stuyvesant Town apartment on Wednesday saw a disturbing screen-saver image on his computer and notified the police, the authorities said.

Mr. Bonczek did not return phone calls yesterday seeking comment. He was charged with possession of photographs of children performing sexual acts, said the police, who said the images were of boys under the age of 10. He posted bail, set at $3,500, on Friday.

From 1984 to 1996, Mr. Bonczek was a social worker for New York City public schools. He worked in several schools, but was terminated in 1996 after an investigation by the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District, said Andrew Jacob, a spokesman for the Department of Education.

Mr. Jacob did not know the details of that investigation. The current special commissioner, Richard J. Condon, said the report was not available yesterday. WNBC-TV reported that the investigation involved four adults who accused Mr. Bonczek of misconduct years earlier, when they were children. One accused Mr. Bonczek of having sex with him, and the others said they had slept in his house and bathed with him, the station reported.

In December 1996, he sued the city’s school board by filing an Article 78 lawsuit, which allows a judge to review an agency’s action or decision. The case was closed a few months later, according to court records, which did not disclose the outcome.

No charges appeared to have been filed after the special commissioner’s investigation. Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, said she did not believe Mr. Bonczek had any prior criminal record. She said the child pornography investigation was continuing.

According to the New York State Education Department, which oversees the licensing of 47 professions, Mr. Bonczek is licensed as a clinical social worker with psychotherapy privileges.

Alan Ray, a spokesman for the state Education Department, said no information was available yesterday about the details of Mr. Bonczek’s licensing history. “Individuals who have no criminal record and show no proven evidence of misconduct can generally get a license under the law,” Mr. Ray said.

A profile posted on the Psychology Today Web site said that Mr. Bonczek had experience with children affected by divorce and adoption, as well as those with attention deficit, mood and other disorders. In an office on East 27th Street, he had hosted an anger management group for children on Friday nights called Stay Cool and a children’s organizational skills group on Saturday afternoons called Get It Together.

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