Victims of child sex abuse typically refrain from reporting the crime right away, an expert on the subject told jurors Thursday in Riverhead as prosecutors wrapped up their case against a Ridge man accused of molesting his foster sons.
Eileen Treacy, a child psychologist and the final prosecution witness in the trial of Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu, said fewer boys than girls report the abuse and overall, only 6 percent to 16 percent of young victims immediately tell others about it.
“It’s harder for the boys to tell,” Treacy told jurors in Suffolk County Court.
The reason, she said, is the stigma of being labeled gay.
Treacy’s testimony served to bolster the prosecution’s contention that the Gonzales’ victims divulging the sexual abuse years after it happened was nothing out of the ordinary.
Defense attorney Donald Mates Jr. rested his case Thursday without calling any witnesses. Mates informed Suffolk County Court Judge Barbara Kahn that his client declined to testify.
“This is your decision and your choice — you don’t want to testify?” the judge asked Gonzales-Mugaburu.
“Yes, your honor,” Gonzales-Mugaburu replied.
Gonzales-Mugaburu, 60, is charged with sexually abusing six boys and endangering the welfare of two others who lived with him. He is also charged with sexual misconduct for having sex with a dog. Prosecutors alleged the sexual abuse occurred between Aug. 1, 1996, and Jan. 19, 2016.
All the boys came to Ridge to live with Gonzales-Mugaburu as his foster children. He eventually adopted the six boys he is accused of molesting. The most serious charge, predatory sexual assault against a child, carries a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Gonzales-Mugaburu, who was arrested Jan. 20, 2016, has pleaded not guilty.
Over the three-week trial, some of the alleged victims testified they did not let their teachers, therapists or social workers know about the abuse at the time it took place because they were fearful of Gonzales-Mugaburu. Some of the boys said he routinely beat them. Others said punishment included starvation.
Mates, of Hauppauge, has contended since the trial began in late March that the alleged victims did not report the abuse at the time because Gonzales-Mugaburu didn’t do it.
Treacy did not interview Gonzales-Mugaburu, his accusers, or anyone else related to this case. She testified generally about the behavior of sexually abused children.
The closer the relationship between the alleged victim and the abuser, she said, the less likely the child will tell others. And, children living in foster homes, Treacy said, are less likely to report the sexual abuse because they have already lost their families.
“They have a real desire to be in a home,” she said.
Summations are scheduled for Friday.