A former foster parent from Ridge has been acquitted of sexually abusing seven of the more than 100 children placed in his home over a 20-year span.

A Suffolk County jury found Cesar Gonzales-Mugabura not guilty Tuesday of charges in a 16-count indictment, including predatory sexual assault, criminal sex act and child endangerment.

“We are extremely disappointed with the Mugaburu verdict,” District Attorney Thomas Spota said. “We will continue to pursue justice in cases involving the sexual abuse of children, which often means pursuing cases based upon the information from the victim of the abuse sometimes years after the crimes when limited corroborative evidence is still available. For those discouraged by this outcome, it is important to guard against any chilling effect that might result; especially a reluctance to report abuse.”

Prosecutors had said the 61-year-old man sexually abused boys placed in his care by several nonprofit agencies. The defense argued that the boys lied about the abuse.

Shortly before the trial began a Suffolk grand jury issued an investigative report blasting agencies within the foster care system for failing to protect the boys in his care.

Gonzales-Mugabura had been held at Suffolk jail since his arrest last year. He had faced up to 25 years in prison, had he been convicted.

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Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.