RIDGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New charges have been filed against a Long Island foster parent accused of sexually abusing children in his care.
As WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported, the case has launched a probe into the foster care system itself.
Child sex abuse cases against Cesar Gonzalez-Mugaburu have been upgraded to predator status, meaning he could now face life in prison if convicted.
Before his arrest in January, Gonzalez-Mugaburu was the subject of nine previous investigations involving alleged abuse dating back to 1998, according to a spokeswoman for Suffolk County.
Each of those inquiries led to a finding that the allegations weren’t credible, and none of them led to the removal of children from Gonzalez-Mugaburu’s split-level ranch home on eastern Long Island.
SCO Family of Services, an agency that placed 72 children in Gonzalez-Mugaburu’s care over 20 years, never found reason to stop placing children with him until his arrest in January, the organization’s chief strategy officer, Rose Anello, said in March.
“SCO has been working closely with the local authorities and law enforcement to better understand the scope of this matter,” Anello said in March.
Police said Gonzalez-Mugaburu made a practice of taking in all boys, many developmentally disabled with behavioral problems.
Gonzalez-Mugaburu also kept his victims quiet by threatening them and telling them he had installed hidden cameras in his house to watch their every move.
Since the arrest, other victims have continued to come forward, police said. Officials said Gonzalez-Mugaburu has cared for as many as 140 children over the years.
Now, Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said a special grand jury will look into the foster care system, which may have been unknowingly helping sexual predators target children.
“Essentially, we have predators who are going on a website as if they were buying merchandise,” Spota said.
Gonzales-Mugaburu was being held without bail as of Thursday on charges his attorney, Donald Bates, called lies.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)