MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) – A suburban New York foster parent who cared for up to 140 boys over the past two decades has been charged with sexually abusing seven of them and prosecutors say there are more victims.
Cesar Gonzalez-Mugaburu, 60, of Ridge, New York, on Long Island, was ordered held on $1 million bond Friday after being charged in a 17-count indictment with child endangerment and sexual misconduct. He is accused of victimizing children as young as 8. He is also accused of sexually abusing a female dog in front of a child last September.
His attorney did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota told The Associated Press that Gonzalez-Mugaburu earned as much as $18,000 a month as a foster parent for the children. He cared for between six and eight children at a time since at least 1996, the prosecutor said.
He said prosecutors were only able to charge Gonzalez-Mugaburu with abusing seven children in the indictment unsealed Friday, because statute of limitations laws prevent filing charges involving other victims. He said two boys came forward in January and reported the alleged abuse to a caseworker, who contacted police. Detectives then launched a wider investigation.
“We know there were other victims,” Spota said.
Authorities the foster children were placed in his care by Brentwood, New York, non-profit St. Christopher Ottilie and the New York City Administration for Children Services. Rose Anello, a spokeswoman for St. Christopher Ottilie, says the organization placed 71 children with Gonzalez-Mugaburu over the past 19 years.
“This investigation should expand well beyond the offender to those who helped to enable this offender to access potential victims,” said Laura Ahearn, a victims’ rights advocate and executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law, which tracks alleged sex offenders.
Spota said the investigation is ongoing, and will include how the alleged abuse went undetected for so long.
Gonzalez-Mugaburu had no prior arrests, prosecutors said; Spota said investigators also are trying to determine how the suspect was permitted to be a foster parent, because he said the man has no employment record.
“He claims to be self-employed,” Spota said.
Statements issued by both the ACS and the non-profit said they were cooperating with the ongoing investigation.