New York Post


LI verdict leaves kid advocates ‘stunned’


He was the subject of 18 childabuse allegation­s and charged with molesting six boys, but their tearful testimony wasn’t enough to put him away.

A Long Island jury instead let foster dad Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu off the hook Tuesday on all 17 counts of abuse and other charges — saying there wasn’t enough evidence to back up his accusers’ claims.

“We’re stunned. We’re absolutely stunned,” said Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law, which worked with one of Gonzales-Mugaburu’s accusers.

“It’s very disappoint­ing that jury did not believe these children. Unfortunat­ely, the children in this case now walk away without any justice.”

All of his accusers — many of whom have emotional and physical disabiliti­es — testified in heartbreak­ing detail at a Suffolk County court about their foster dad’s alleged sick acts.

One victim said he was just 8 years old when Gonzalez-Mugaburu came into his bedroom at night and molested him.

But jurors cleared the defendant of all charges, with the foreman saying that even though he believed some of the testimony, prosecutor­s failed to produce any hard evidence to back up the allegation­s.

“I could not put a man away for the rest of his life on what they gave us, the evidence they produced,” foreman Tim Carney, 48, told Newsday. “There was nothing ever to back them up.”

The defendant’s lawyer, Donald Mates, told The Post that he wasn’t surprised by the verdict.

“There was very little corroborat­ion between the boys and very little corroborat­ion from other officials, such as school officials or officials from . . . the fostercare agency,” Mates said.

The lawyer apparently convinced jurors that the accusers had financial motivation to see their former foster dad convicted because of pending civil lawsuits against the agency that placed them in his home.

Mates said his client, who lives in Ridge, was “relieved’’ but not shocked that he was cleared.

Suffolk County DA Thomas Spota said he was “extremely disappoint­ed.”

“For those discourage­d by this outcome, it is important to guard against any chilling effect that might result; especially a reluctance to report abuse,” he said in a statement.

Gonzalez-Mugaburu’s allegedly disturbing behavior was uncovered in January 2016, when two boys he was charged with endangerin­g told police he was telling them inappropri­ate jokes. One boy also alleged he saw Gonzales-Mugaburu, 60, engage in a sex act with his dog.

Cops arrested him and began probing his dealings with his other foster kids. That’s when they turned up the six cases of alleged sex abuse.

One case involved the then-8year-old, Newsday reported. Another of Gonzalez-Mugaburu’s foster kids, now 21, said he was 10 when the defendant began molesting him over the course of three years.

Still, the panel of six men and six women weren’t convinced even after taking seven days to render their verdict.

Gonzales-Mugaburu was never charged in the 18 child-welfare cases.

 ??  ?? FREE: Cesar GonzalesMu­gaburu Tuesday outside the home where six kids said he molested them.
FREE: Cesar GonzalesMu­gaburu Tuesday outside the home where six kids said he molested them.

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