A Ridge man sexually and physically abused at least seven of the 140 or more foster boys placed in his care during the past 20 years, Suffolk County authorities said Friday.
Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu, 60, was arraigned Friday on an indictment charging him with 13 counts of felony sexual abuse, three misdemeanor counts of child endangerment and misdemeanor sexual misconduct against a dog.
Suffolk District Attorney Tom Spota called the defendant’s home on Blue Ridge Way a “house of horrors.”
“Many of the victims described punishment, physical contact, physical abuse, hitting them, denying them meals, making them stand out in the cold,” Spota said at a news conference with Gerard Gigante, chief of detectives for Suffolk police.
The alleged victims ranged in age from 8 to 20, authorities said, and in the case of the youngest boy, the sexual abuse went on for at least two years, between August 1996 and March 1998, authorities said.
Over the years, the foster boys were sent to his home by Brentwood-based St. Christopher-Ottilie, a nonprofit also known as SCO Family of Services, and by the New York City Administration for Children Services, prosecutors said.
Gonzales-Mugaburu earned up to $18,000 a month in foster care payments, prosecutors said.
SCO got a complaint about him as early as 1998, but the agency continued sending him foster children, Spota said in criticizing the nonprofit.
The nonprofit’s chief strategy officer, Rose Anello, said Friday the agency informed state regulators Jan. 13 of “suspected abuse and maltreatment by a foster parent.”
“After reporting the allegations, SCO immediately removed the children and then closed the home,” Anello said in a statement defending the agency, which provides services to homeless families and at-risk children and adults on Long Island and New York City.
She said the agency is cooperating with the investigation. “This is an extremely troubling situation which goes against everything that SCO stands for and believes in ... We take seriously any issue that relates to the safety of children in our programs,” Anello said.
Gonzales-Mugaburu was arraigned Friday in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead and held on bail of $500,000 cash or $1 million bond. He faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
His attorney could not be immediately reached.
Gigante said investigators believe there may be additional victims. He urged anyone with information to contact police.