Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu , a 60 year old foster father who had previously opened his home to scores of disabled children, was acquitted yesterday in a New York Supreme Court of endangering or sexually abusing several boys while they were in his care. The verdict followed a five week trial during which eight of Mr. Mugaburu’s accusers testified against him. Mr. Mugaburu had been denied bail and was held in jail for a year prior to his trial.
Mr. Mugaburu’s lawyer, Donald Mates, argued at trial that while Mr. Mugaburu was strict, he was not abusive. Mr. Mates cited to the fact New York City’s child welfare agency trusted Mr. Mugaburu so much that it had placed 95 boys in his care over 20 years. Mr. Mates further raised doubt about the credibility of the accusers, arguing they were coached.
The jury deliberated the 16 charges against Mr. Mugaburu for more than a week. According to the The New York Times, jurors reported struggling at times to remain impartial in the case which elicited a lot of emotion. The jury further organized the case details and created a timeline on a white board in the jury room. The jurors even debated the definition of “reasonable doubt” and requested the judge to re-read the jury instructions providing the definition. The case was very stressful for the jury, with one juror noting some of her fellow jurors fainted, became dizzy, developed stomach problems, and experienced insomnia during the trial. Continue reading