A Marietta man who plays piano with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus and two churches was arrested Wednesday on charges of possessing child pornography and distributing it over the Internet.
J. Todd Skrabanek, 46, turned himself in to the Cobb Police Department’s Crimes Against Children office on Whitlock Avenue, according to authorities.
Sgt. Dana Pierce said detectives found evidence during a search of Skrabanek’s apartment in the 300 block of Smokerise Circle, which is in the Chimney Trace apartment complex off Terrell Mill Road near Powers Ferry Road in east Cobb.
“We did take electronic equipment from his residence and we are doing forensic examinations of that, but we do have knowledge that he has not only those images but he also has put some images on the Internet,” Pierce said.
Police executed a search warrant Wednesday morning at the apartment, then called Skrabanek in for questioning that afternoon, Pierce said. Detectives then decided to charge him with three counts of sexual exploitation of children. He remains in the Cobb County jail without bond.
GBI initiated investigation
Cobb police were put on the case through the Internet Crimes Against Children unit run by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. This unit is staffed by officers posing as children or teens in various online chatrooms and sites.
Detectives also learned that Skrabanek previously worked with children at numerous locations throughout metro Atlanta ore
teaching music lessons.
Pierce could not say what specific evidence detectives collected or whether the pornography displayed any single gender. Skrabanek taught piano lessons to both boys and girls.
“He has been here in Cobb County for at least four years, however, he grew up in Georgia and he has been giving piano lessons virtually all of his life,” Pierce said.
Police are hoping to hear from parents of children who may have taken lessons or been in contact with Skrabanek.
Because Skrabanek may have taught lessons outside of Cobb, Pierce said other agencies throughout Georgia may also be looking for victims in their jurisdictions.
Anyone whose children have been in contact with Skrabanek, or has additional information on this case is asked to call (770) 801-3470.
Neighbor reacts to allegations
One of Skrabanek’s neighbors at Chimney Trace, who asked that her name not be used, has lived in the same building with him for a “couple of years.”
She described him as a pleasant neighbor and said she last saw him a few days ago on July 8 or 9.
“He said he had been happy and had more of a social life these days than ever before,” she said. “He was kind of quiet, kept to himself and was friendly enough if you spoke to him.”
The resident, who has lived at Chimney Trace for more than 20 years, said she saw officers going through Skrabanek’s car and inside his apartment Wednesday.
“There was a crime scene SUV and two detectives in marked cars, but they didn’t talk to anybody that I know of,” she said. “I thought we had had another break-in. But I wasn’t quite sure because there were not officers there in uniforms.”
The woman said she was “definitely surprised” to hear that her neighbor was arrested on child porn charges.
“I’m just blown away,” she said. “It makes me uncomfortable and I guess it’s fortunate that we don’t have but a few children living here.”
She never recalled anyone, specifically children, ever going into or out of his apartment for music lessons.
Melissa Sanders, a spokesperson with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, said Skrabanek’s current role is as a pianist for the orchestra’s chorus rehearsals.
She couldn’t say how long Skrabanek had worked for the organization, but said it was “quite a long time.”
Sanders declined to comment on any personnel matters of the orchestra or what might happen with Skrabanek’s employment, but that the orchestra was aware of his arrest.
According to Skrabanek’s website, toddmusic.com, he also plays piano at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church and Meridian Herald, both located in Atlanta.
The biography page on his website says he moved with his parents to Atlanta in 1971 from New York. Shortly thereafter he joined the Atlanta Boy Choir, where he “discovered he had perfect pitch” and has been a musician ever since, first learning how to play piano.
The biography states Skrabanek married a longtime friend that he met at Florida State, Susan Smith, in 2000, but the couple separated in 2010, “amicably parted as dear friends.”
He studied music at Birmingham-Southern University in Alabama, Florida State University, the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts and Georgia State University.
Skrabanek has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and has appeared with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at the Philharmonie in Berlin, Germany, according to his Facebook page.
“In his spare time he enjoys practicing, yoga, reading, (the TV show) Criminal Minds, sports, listening, talking with friends, and pursuing clarity in all things musical, spiritual, intellectual, and physical,” according to his website biography.
Skrabanek has also played piano for the Alabama and Augusta symphonies, Atlanta Opera, Choral Guild of Atlanta, Capitol City Opera, Dorsey School of Performing Arts, Harmony Atlanta’s International Youth Chorus, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, and was an instructor at Agnes Scott College.