A $32 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by the family of a 10-year-old Lancaster boy. He passed away in 2018 after being sexually assaulted and tortured by his mother and her boyfriend. They officially approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
In May, the county’s portion of the Anthony Avalos death lawsuit was resolved. Attorneys for the family confirm a week later that the county would pay $32 million. Subject to the Board of Supervisors’ approval.
“We hope that the resolution of this tragic case brings some peace and closure to Anthony’s family and loved ones.” said a statement released by the county Department of Children and Family Services. Following the board’s approval of the settlement.
“Anthony’s death and other child tragedies highlight the complexities of child welfare. We continue using what we’ve learned to evolve and improve our work with children and families.”
The lawsuit accused the county and several social workers of failing to respond. Appropriately to reports of abuse against Anthony and his half-siblings.
“This little boy should not have had to endure anything,” plaintiffs’ attorney Brian E. Claypool said at a news conference in May. “Anthony understands that he did not die in vain because he died so that other children could live.”
The remaining defendant in the lawsuit, Pasadena-based Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services, settled for an undisclosed sum in August.
Assign Employee Barbara Dixon to Work With the Family
According to the lawsuit, Hathaway-Sycamores assign employee Barbara Dixon to work with the family. Even though she allegedly not report abuse in the case of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale. Who is killed while caring for his mother and her boyfriend, as was Anthony? Dixon, according to Claypool, is an unlicensed intern.
Attorneys for Hathaway-Sycamores state in court papers that the plaintiffs made no allegations. About what Dixon allegedly witnessed or whether she suspect any abuse. Which is not already known to the county Department of Children and Family Services.
Claypool stated on behalf of the Avalos family following the board’s approval of the settlement on Tuesday, saying they will continue pushing for legislative changes to improve DCFS operations and protect children.
“We will work with a state legislator to pass Anthony’s Law,” Claypool said. “When there is a report of severe suspect child abuse. The law requires DCFS to deploy a forensic child psychologist to interview the child “in the absence” of the parents. DCFS employees are not adequately trained to interview children. Who abuse or sexually assaulted. The interview would have to conduct by a trained professional specialising in child abuse.”
Charges Against the Murder: Anthony
In October 2018, a grand jury indicted Heather Maxine Barron, 32, and her boyfriend, Kareem Ernesto Leiva, 36, on charges of murdering the boy and abusing two other children in the household.
In May 2021, the District Attorney’s Office announced that it would no longer seek the death penalty against the pair, who now face a maximum sentence. If convicted, the punishment will be life in prison with no chance of parole.
During the May news conference, Anthony’s father, Victor Avalos, stated that he struggles to understand his son’s death.
“Nothing will bring him back,” Victor Avalos said.
Maria Barron, Anthony’s aunt, held a photo of a happy Anthony. She claimed the boy live happily with her and her husband, David Barron. He lived with them for seven years before returning to his mother through the county Department of Children and Family Services.
“I truly believe Anthony could have been saved if DCFS had done its job properly,” said Maria Barron.
Prosecutors Claim Anthony Underwent Severe Torture
Prosecutors claim Anthony is severely torture by his mother and Leiva during his life’s last five or six days. According to a prosecution court filing, the alleged abuse included:
- Whipping the boy a belt, and a looped cord
- Pouring hot sauce on his face and mouth.
- Holding him by his feet.
- Repeatedly dropping him on his head.
According to the plaintiffs’ court papers, from 2013 until he died in 2018. Anthony and his six half-siblings were denied food and water, beaten, sexually abused, and dangled upside-down from a staircase.
He has to crouch for hours while carrying heavy objects. They were kept in cramped quarters with no access to a bathroom. They were forced to fight and move in order to eat from the garbage.
“Despite these continued allegations of abuse, some of which substantiated. DCFS continued to leave the children in Barron’s and Leiva’s care. He was exposing Anthony and his half-siblings to continued torture and abuse,” according to the plaintiff’s court papers.