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Who’s to blame? 10 year old Lancaster boy beaten to death after coming out gay

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Anthony Avalos
Pictured, Lancaster, California boy, Anthony Avalos.
Anthony Avalos
Pictured, Lancaster, California boy, Anthony Avalos.

Was the death of Anthony Avalos, a Lancaster, California ten year old boy who came out as gay, the result of neglect and oversight of CPS authorities after years of complaints? 

Questions have surrounded the death of a ten year old California boy who was found dead last week at his family’s Lancaster apartment, the results of severe head trauma. The boy’s death follows the child some time earlier ‘coming out as gay’ and family services having received up to 13 instances of abuse in the year before.

Anthony Nolan Avalos was discovered unresponsive following calls to authorities last Wednesday. Anthony was taken off life support and come Thursday morning died as a consequence of his injuries.

Authorities are treating Anthony’s death as suspicious and believe he may have been the vicim of homophobia- the dislike or prejudice against people who identify as being homosexual.

The Los Angeles Times cited Brandon Nichols, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, saying Anthony had previously said he ‘liked boys’.

Nichols would not reveal when Anthony came out or who he told.

Could Anthony Avalos’ death been averted?

Causing disconcert are claims by Anthony’s aunt, Maria Barron who alluded to possible mistreatment at the hands of Anthony’s mother, Heather Barron and her boyfriend Kareem Leiva.

The aunt’s claims raise claims of whether the boy’s death could have been averted had authorities reacted earlier to allegations of rampant child abuse. 

According to Barron, she began calling the DCFS in 2015 when she noticed bruises appearing on Anthony and his seven siblings, who have since been removed from Heather’s home.

Maria said the children told her Leiva had caused the bruises and also claimed he forced them to urinate and defecate in small spaces that he locked them inside.

To come out to his family in such an environment ‘only reinforces how brave Anthony was’, Maria told via CBS2.

Anthony’s mother told investigators that her son had ‘suffered injuries from a fall’ when she called 911 around 12.15pm on Wednesday. 

The mother’s claims appear to contradict the injuries Anthony Avalos suffered, severe head injuries along with Anthony having cigarette burns all over his body.

The Los Angeles County coroner is set to determine the exact cause of death.

Anthony Avalos and siblings: A history of child abuse.

It has since been revealed that the DCFS received at least 16 calls over the years alleging that Heather and Leiva were abusing the children, aged 11 months to 12 years old. 

School administrators and family members, as well as a teacher and a counselor, had all called in to voice their concerns.

They reported that the children were being sexually abused, beaten and bruised, forced to fight one another, and forced to eat from the trash, according to DCFS Director Bobby Cagle

The concerned callers also reported that the children were being denied food and water, were forced to crouch for hours, and were even dangled upside down from the home’s staircase.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s spokesman also revealed that Child Protective Services had come to the house at least once for child abuse allegations involving one of Anthony’s siblings. 

Maria reported Heather and Leiva to the county and Anthony’s school three years ago but said nothing was done to remove the children from the home.

‘Anthony deserves justice and the rest of my nieces and nephews do not deserve to to go back to her,’ Maria told CBS2.

The DCFS also documented years ago that Leiva was allegedly a member of the MS-13 gang. But he was not determined to be a threat to Anthony or his seven siblings. 

Leiva was also convicted of domestic abuse in 2010.   

Heather and Leiva have not yet been charged with any crimes related to Anthony’s death. 

Meanwhile, the DCFS has determined that Anthony likely died from child abuse.  

Cagle has said it is ‘premature’ to conclude that Anthony’s death was in part due to the failure of the DCFS.

‘That’s a very complex question,’ he told the LA Times. ‘It’s much more than a black-and-white issue. There are many shades of gray.’ 

But DCFS supervisor Janice Hahn maintains the department failed Anthony. 

The department is currently collaborating with law enforcement in the investigation into the boy’s death. 

Anthony’s siblings will remain out of his mother’s custody during the investigation.