LANCASTER (CBSLA) — The LA Times is reporting that social workers and law enforcement agents were told that a 10-year-old boy, now deceased, had been abused for years.
Anthony Avalos was rushed from his Lancaster apartment to a hospital Wednesday with critical injuries.
The boy survived the night but was pronounced dead at 6:30 a.m. Thursday at a local hospital, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies responded to the boy’s apartment in the 1100 block of East Avenue K at about noon on a report that the boy had been injured in a fall and was not breathing.
The boy’s death is considered suspicious. The Los Angeles County coroner will determine the exact cause of death.
Meanwhile, the Times is reporting that a teacher, a school administrator and family members called police or the child abuse hotline at least 16 times in the past five years.
Deputies also found another seven children, ages 11 months to 12 years old, who were either living in the apartment or associated with the victim’s family , the sheriff’s department said. Those seven children have been removed from the apartment by Child Protective Services.
The boy’s aunt, Maria Barron, told CBS2 she believes his mother and her boyfriend had been abusing him. She says she reported the couple to the county and his last school three years ago but nothing was done.
“He told us that he would get locked up and he wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom,” Barron said.
She told KCAL9’s Cristy Fajardo Sunday evening that she called authorities on her sister-in-law and her boyfriend in 2015.
Barron said she noticed bruising on the boy. Anthony and his siblings also allegedly told her that were being abused and forced to eat trash.
She said after a visit with their mother, the children recanted parts of their story and they were sent back to live with her. She said they were then cut off from the rest of the family.
“Anthony deserves justice,” she said, “the rest of my nieces and nephews don’t deserve to go back to her,” she said at a vigil.
Authorities had contact with the family “prior to this incident,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida told the Times. But they didn’t give details. The Department of Children and Family Services is remaining tight-lipped, Fajardo reported.
From Mexico, Anthony’s father — Victor Avalos — told Fajardo his mother also reported her suspicions her grandson was being abused after seeing scratches on him.
He says his ex started to keep him from talking to Anthony on video conferencing. Before being cut off, he had suspicions of his own.
“I would talk to him on camera, I would ask him, how are you doing?, are you okay? do you need something?, and he would just put his head down,” said Victor.
He says he tried to fight for custody but lacked the proper paperwork to come to the US to retrieve his child. Now he says he’d like answers from his ex and authorities.
“I just don’t know why social workers never did a full investigation,” Avalos said.
No one has been charged in the boy’s death. His mother and boyfriend said he died as a result of an accidental fall.
The Times reported the boy died from serious head trauma and had cigarette burns all over his body.