The mother of a 10-year-old boy who died last week is blaming an accidental fall for her son’s untimely death at their home in Lancaster. Child protective services are, however, disputing the mother’s claim and said the demise was likely due to child abuse, especially in light of more allegations of abusive behavior in the home surfacing on Tuesday including a possible horrific instance of sexual abuse committed by a male relative against the boy in 2013 when he was only five years old.
Responding deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in Lancaster found the boy unresponsive at the family’s apartment after they got a 911 call from the child’s mother. The mother of Anthony Avalos told the officials that her son suffered injuries from a fall. Investigators classified his death on Thursday morning, however, at a local hospital as “suspicious.”
Officials from the county’s Department of Children and Family Services said they saw evidence that the boy had been a “victim of physical abuse, including signs of being severely beaten, as well as malnourishment.”
DCFS Director Bobby Cagle said: “What we had was a severe head injury, including a brain bleed. We had bruising and scrapes all about the body. That pattern, in its totality, was not likely to be an accidental injury, but more likely to be an inflicted injury pattern.”
Cagle believes that the evidence points to the cause of the boy’s death as being inflicted, and not accidental.
Before the child’s death, the authorities have been receiving reports of abuse and neglect in the home for years where the boy lived with his mother and her other children, as well as whoever boyfriend she is with at times.
DCFS substantiated instances of physical abuse and neglect, including “physical abuse by the mother, bruises on the child, and also some denial of food.” Cagle also said the department substantiated instances of “inappropriate discipline,” that including keeping the child in a “crouch position that was very uncomfortable for an extended period of time.”
Between 2013 and 2016 alone, caseworkers already received 12 referrals for possible abuse. In fact, the first of those referrals received in the first quarter of 2013 were over allegations of sexual abuse committed on the boy. The sexual abuse allegation involved a male relative who was not living at the home at that time.
DCFS carried out an investigation and the boy underwent medical examination and was “referred for services.” The case was later closed. It is unclear if anyone was charged on the case. Authorities said, however, that the mother was cooperative in the probe at that time.
The boy was removed from the home the following year for several months and went to live with relatives after another allegation of abuse suffered at home. He went back before the year ended at that time.
Family members who spoke on the matter also said that Avalos may have been targeted also for abuse by the mother’s boyfriend because he showed signs that he could be gay. Caseworkers said he at some point told his mother that he liked both boys and girls.
What is truly sad, if not enraging in the case, however, is that the boy’s death could have been prevented had the authorities perhaps worked faster and with firmer action. Yes, there are processes and systems in place they are following, but the red flags have been more than enough consistently for the past years for them to have conclusively decided to take the boy from his mother’s “’care” and brought some place safer and more secure.
The life of the young boy could have been saved the moment the sexual abuse allegations against the male relative surfaced- a deplorable experience that could have so shaken the boy and may have contributed to his confused “sexuality”’ among other pains and trauma caused by various abuses suffered at home. The pieces of evidence would have been sufficient enough to make the call to remove him from his mother who was unable to protect him in the first place, and even contributed hugely to his sufferings.
The possible link between sexual abuse and homosexuality can not be easily dismissed, too.
After the boy’s death, the DCFS has removed six other children, the boy’s siblings, from the home. While it was the right move, sadly it could also be a little too late, as we don’t know if those other children have horror experiences to tell, too.