Alleged Long Island pedophile was investigated nine times since 1998 for abusing foster kids, but authorities did nothing
By Reuven Blau (NY Daily News)
March 28, 2016
The Long Island foster dad from hell was branded a molester nine times — starting nearly two decades ago — but vulnerable children kept being sent into his lair.
Suffolk County child protection officials investigated accused pedophile Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu repeatedly in response to complaints filed by kids in his charge, according to a New York City official familiar with the cases.
But investigators never substantiated the complaints, and kids continued to be sent to the alleged house of horrors for years. The probes began as early as 1998, the source said.
“They missed it over and over again,” the source added.
It is unclear why the Suffolk County authorities who reviewed the allegations were unable to figure out that Gonzales-Mugaburu, 59, was in fact molesting and abusing children as prosecutors now allege.
But as a result of earlier allegations, Suffolk County in 2002 told SCO Family of Services, the agency handling placement, to stop sending children to his home.
That information was never forwarded to the New York City Administration for Child Services, as protocol required, for any case involving a city child, according to the source familiar with the cases.
SCO issued a statement Sunday saying it was “shocked and deeply saddened over the circumstances that led to the indictment.” But the statement did not explain why it kept on sending ACS children to Gonzales-Mugaburu after he was banned by Suffolk County or why it failed to notify ACS about the investigations.
Gonzales-Mugaburu was charged March 18 with abusing seven children and the family dog. Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said he believes there are more victims, but his office is unable to bring additional criminal charges because of the statute of limitations.
Several of the 140 boys in Gonzales-Mugaburu’s care over the past two decades have told the Daily News about a chilling pattern of abuse. The children also told authorities they were repeatedly beaten, kept locked away for weeks and kicked outside in frigid temperatures.
News of Gonzales-Mugaburu’s arrest was no surprise to at least one former ward.
“Why put foster kids in his care?” one asked, noting the “allegations kept going.”
“For him it was all about money,” the former foster child said. “He was pretty sick."
Meanwhile, Gonzales-Mugaburu earned as much as $18,000 a month as a foster parent. He filled his two-floor devil’s den with between six and eight children at a time since 1996.
When announcing the arrest, police acknowledged they had investigated prior allegations, but were never able to get enough evidence to substantiate them.
Whenever a kid accuses a foster parent of sexual abuse, child-protection officials must forward the complaint to the police, who generally take over the investigation.
Other complaints, like educational neglect or excessive corporal punishment, are typically handled by child-protection investigators. They look for any physical signs of abuse like bruises or cuts and reach out to the kid’s school to check attendance.
It is unclear what the complaints against Gonzales-Mugaburu alleged.
made some eat off the floor. Neighbors claimed they saw some of the children rummaging through garbage cans in search of food, according to Spota.
“Physical contact, physical abuse, hitting them, denying them meals, making them stand out in the cold,” he told reporters. “He’s trying to devise every way he can to keep these kids contained.”
The accused tormentor claims he’s innocent.
“I’m aware. They’re not true,” Gonzales-Mugaburu told The News during a jailhouse interview regarding the charges.
Suffolk County Child Protective Services has long struggled to carry out its mandate.
In 1995, a grand jury report concluded agency caseworkers lacked proper instruction and supervision, were overwhelmed by cumbersome bureaucracy, and were allowed to make important decisions on their own.
The report detailed multiple tragic circumstances, including one in which a caseworker let a 21/2-year-old boy live with his parents — despite major injuries and signs of abuse like bruised testicles.
The grand jury review made 50 recommendations for improved care, including boosting caseworker training.