A Mastic Beach man spent the day Tuesday telling jurors about an odyssey of sexual and psychological abuse he says his adoptive father inflicted on him, and his years struggling to break free and get authorities to believe him.
The man, now 29, said that within months of his arrival as a foster child at the Ridge home of Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu, sexual comments and pornography developed into twice-daily sex acts — sometimes even when other foster children were in the room.
Gonzales-Mugaburu would hide the boy, whom Newsday is not naming, under a blanket at times so others wouldn’t see what was going on.
Gonzales-Mugaburu, 60, is on trial before Suffolk County Court Judge Barbara Kahn, charged with sexually abusing six boys, some of whom he later adopted, and a dog. The most serious charge, predatory sexual assault against a child, carries a maximum sentence of 25 years to life.
Defense attorney Donald Mates Jr. of Hauppauge said in his opening statement that the boys’ stories aren’t credible and his client sexually abused no one.
The Mastic Beach man’s testimony was vivid and explicit, but sometimes hazy on details. He was forced to correct himself a few times on when certain events in his childhood happened.
During questioning by Assistant District Attorney Laurie Moroff, the man said Gonzales-Mugaburu also tried to crush his spirit.
“You’re mentally retarded,” Gonzales-Mugaburu told him, he said. “You’re not going to go nowhere in life. You’ll always be retarded.”
The man said that as a boy, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. He took medication for those conditions, he said.
“Well, you did get somewhere in life, didn’t you?” Moroff asked him.
“I sure did,” the man said, a note of pride in his voice.
He lives on his own and has held a series of blue collar jobs. But he said he has also been arrested a few times, including once for being an accomplice in an armed robbery.
At the age of 8, the man said he knew he could force his departure from the Ridge home if he acted badly enough. So he said he got himself in trouble at Ridge Elementary School for stealing a classmate’s watch and trashing the principal’s office.
He succeeded in getting transferred to another foster home in Uniondale, but four years later he got in a fight with another boy there and SCO, the Glen Cove-based foster agency, sent him back to Gonzales-Mugaburu. He said SCO therapists and case workers never talked to him without Gonzales-Mugaburu within earshot.
The night before his adoption at 14, he said he ran away to Manhattan. After a police officer found him, an SCO caseworker drove him back to the agency’s Brentwood office, where he said Gonzales-Mugaburu was waiting.
The abuse continued, he said. After high school graduation, the man said he ran away for the last time. He said he told police and Child Protective Services what was happening to him and other boys, but no charges were brought.
Then, in January 2016, he said Gonzales-Mugaburu called him to say he’d been arrested for endangering the welfare of two boys by making sexual comments. “About time,” the man said he thought to himself.
He said he decided to speak up one last time, telling a Suffolk detective about life in the Ridge house. Then, he said, “One by one, I brought my brothers forward.”
The man said he has a suit pending against SCO for its failure to protect him.
“I’m not doing it just for the money,” he testified.
“What are you doing it for?” Moroff asked.