Agency Blamed for Boy’s ‘Horrifying’ Foster Home

     (CN) — The guardian of a special-needs child claims in a federal lawsuit that the boy was sexually assaulted by his foster care father, forced to eat off the floor, starved and locked in his bedroom for weeks.
     The boy, named only as J.A., sued SCO Family of Services on Thursday in Brooklyn federal court through his guardian Bruce Wolf.
     He says he was dragged 3,000 miles from his home state of Washington after years of living in foster homes, only to be placed in the home of Cesar Gonzales-Mugarubu on Long Island.
     J.A. claims he and at least 70 other boys who moved through the 60-year-old’s home were “forced to live with the madman.”
     The boy said he was physically and mentally abused, starved and sexually assaulted. The lawsuit alleges the boy’s abuse was ignored by the adoption agency, despite him speaking up.
     “This is a horrifying case of neglect by a system that shuttles voiceless victims into abusive conditions,” Richard D. Emery, the boy’s attorney said in a statement. “We know that this is the tip of the iceberg. Our goal is to get justice for these abused children and dismantle the system responsible for this nightmare.”
     Mugaburu was a single man living in Suffolk County when he started fostering a total of 140 children since 1996, most of them boys with special needs, the complaint states.
     According to the lawsuit, he subjected them to sexual, mental and physical abuse, starvation and neglect. He also allegedly forced them to eat off the floors when he even bothered to feed them.
     The lawsuit says Mugaburu even engaged in bestiality in front of at least one of the boys by having sex with a female dog.
     He’d lock the boys in their rooms for weeks, make them stand outside in the cold and rain for hours, and verbally abused them, the complaint states.
     All the while, he was allegedly raking in as much as $230,000 a year in public money for his services.
     Mugaburu wouldn’t let any of the kids’ friends come over, and fed them only twice a day, J.A. claims. Neighbors reportedly said they even saw the children rummaging for food in garbage cans in the neighborhood.
     The man is also accused of denying the boys medical care, and forced them to take medicine that they did not need.
     J.A. says he complained of the abuse to social workers and teachers at school, but “to no avail.” Now he’s taking the adoption agency to task.
     “SCO knew or should have known of the reports of abuse…but failed to take any action during this two-year period to remove J.A. from the harm Mugaburu inflicted on him daily,” the 13-page complaint states.
     Mugaburu was ultimately arrested in January after two kids came forward.
     In March, he was hit with a 17-count indictment for allegedly sexually abusing five foster boys and two of his adopted sons. A special grand jury was pulled in to investigate the foster care system in Riverhead, N.Y., a suburb on Long Island.
     Mugaburu has pleaded not guilty, and is set to appear in court Thursday.
     The lawsuit claims SCO knew he faced at least 30 complaints of sexual or physical abuse and mistreatment, and was banned from getting more boys, but it kept sending boys to his home, “deliberately ignoring what was readily apparent to another foster care agency: the home of Mugaburu was no safe place for children.”
     Mugaburu’s “reign of terror finally came to an end” when Suffolk County officers intervened in January, J.A.’s complaint states.
     Emery, the boy’s attorney, is with Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady in New York City.

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