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Long Island foster father accused of sexual abuse acquitted of all charges

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Kristin Thorne reports on the acquittal of a Long Island foster father.

A Long Island foster father accused of sexually abusing six of the more than 100 boys he cared for over two decades was acquitted Tuesday of all charges against him.

The verdict came on the seventh day of jury deliberations in Suffolk County in a case that put a national focus on the foster care system.

Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu, 60, was cleared of 17 counts involving abuse of the children. Many of the boys had mental, intellectual, emotional and behavioral issues.

One mentally challenged man testified that Gonzales-Mugaburu molested him for about three years beginning when he was 10. The man, now 21, said it left him confused.

Gonzales-Mugaburu's attorney, Donald Mates, had argued that the accusers had concocted stories of abuse.

"As I sat through the trial, it became more apparent to me that I didn't believe any of the young men who testified," he said after the verdict. "This is vindication. From Day One, when I met Cesar, he told me he didn't do this. I looked at him and believed him."

He predicted his client, who did not testify in his own defense, would never be able to restore his reputation. He said no decision has been made on whether to sue for false arrest.

Jury foreman Tim Carney said he voted not guilty on all counts from the beginning because there were too many holes in the prosecution's case.

"I could not put a man away for the rest of his life on what they gave us - the evidence they produced," Carney said.

Newsday reported that Carney said he believed the testimony of some of the accusers, but the prosecution did not introduce evidence to support those accounts.

Prosecutors had painted the Ridge man as a monster and blamed the foster care system for lax oversight at his Long Island home.

An 83-page report released by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota this year contended systemic failures allowed Gonzales-Mugaburu to take in more than 100 children over 20 years. It noted that he had been the subject of 18 child abuse investigations. None of those investigations led to criminal charges until his arrest in January 2016.

Gonzales-Mugaburu was released from custody after the verdict, but his attorney won't disclose where he is staying. His previous home was boarded up.

Mates previously said he disagreed with the findings in the report. There never was any reason for the agencies to fail to uncover abuse because, he said, it never happened.

Mates also said that at least some of the accusers had a financial reason to see Gonzales-Mugaburu convicted because they have sued an agency that placed them in his home.

Spota said in a statement that prosecutors were "extremely disappointed" with the verdict.

"We will continue to pursue justice in cases involving the sexual abuse of children," he said. "For those discouraged by this outcome, it is important to guard against any chilling effect that might result; especially a reluctance to report abuse."
Related Topics:
newsfoster kidssex abusesex abuse against childrentrialsuffolk county newsRiverhead
(Copyright ©2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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