RIDGE - A longtime social worker says she had complained about a Ridge foster father accused of sexually abusing children in his care for years.
Debi Edwards says it came as no surprise to her when Cesar Gonzalez-Mugaburu was indicted earlier this month on charges that he sexually abused seven of his foster children and the family dog.
Edwards says she first had suspicions of Gonzalez-Mugaburu when she learned his 16-year-old foster son, then a student in Longwood School District, was kicked out of the house for having a girlfriend.
She says she found it odd, and then became more disturbed when she saw how many foster children Gonzalez-Mugaburu was taking in.
Officials say as many as 140 children were placed in his care over a span of 20 years. The majority of them were developmentally disabled boys.
District Attorney Thomas Spota says Gonzalez-Mugaburu earned as much as $18,000 a month for fostering the kids.
Four years ago, Edwards says she had her first firsthand encounter with the alleged abuser.
"All the alarms went off," she says.
Edwards confronted Gonzalez-Mugaburu over ill-fitting clothes worn by one of his foster children.
"He became irate," she says. "His exact words to me were, 'Oh, you think I should drop my pants every time you call?'"
Edwards says she went to the district with her concerns and had been told at one point that no more boys would be placed in the home.
She says she feared making an issue could have cost her her job, but that she now wishes she pushed harder.
"A job should not be more important than children being abused," Edwards says.