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Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu

Foster dad acquitted of all sexual abuse charges after seven days of deliberation

It took the jury six days of deliberation to vote to acquit 60-year-old Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu on 17 counts of sexual abuse. He was accused of sexually abusing six boys in his care between 1996 and 2016, as well as endangering the welfare of two other boys and sexual misconduct involving a dog, according to Newsday. 

The jury of six men and six women deliberated for seven days before reaching the unexpected verdict. At one point, reported Newsday, they asked for a read-back of testimony given by one of the alleged victims as well as clarification on the definition of the charge of “endangering the welfare of a child.”

According to New York news station PIX11, Mugaburu’s defense attorney, Donald Mates,  contended the eight former foster children lied about the abuse.

The New York Daily News reported that the boys testified they were raped and sexually assaulted “at Gonzales-Mugaburu’s whim.” He also was accused of physically and emotionally abusing the children in his care.

Suffolk County jurors were torn. Despite testimony from victims who described gruesome accounts of sexual abuse, there wasn’t enough physical evidence to convict. A number of jurors exited the building with tears in their eyes.

“Difficult deliberations, sleepless nights, very difficult work. Ultimately we tried to do what we were tasked to do — follow the law to the best of our abilities,” said 59-year-old juror, Gregory Condemi.

Mugaburu took in over 100 boys over his tenure as a foster parent in New York. All of the boys in Gonzales-Mugaburu’s care had special needs and one victim testified that Mugaburu wouldn’t feed him and he had to scavenge food from trash cans, reported Long Island News 12.

Mugaburu was initially investigated in 2013 when a school psychologist called child protective services after one of the boys under Mugaburu’s care came to school with a red mark on his face. Mugaburu was arrested in January of 2016 after two boys in his care reported alleged abuse to a caseworker, according to ABC7. 

Mugaburu, who made over $1.5 million over his 20 years as a foster parent, did not take the stand in his defense and left the courtroom on Tuesday without making a statement.

[Feature Photo: Suffolk County Police]