$32 million settlement for Avalos family

On Tuesday, October 18th, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved unanimously $32 million settlement on behalf of the siblings and father of the late Anthony Avalos, a ten-year-old boy who died from horrific abuse and torture inflicted on him by his mother and her boyfriend. The settlement amount was initially agreed upon by the lawyers of Anthony’s family and Los Angeles county in May and had been pending for the Board’s approval.

The Last Days of Anthony Avalos

Anthony lived with his mother Heather Barron and her boyfriend Kareem Leiva, both of whom regularly abused and inflicted torturing punishments on Anthony and his siblings– pouring hot sauce on their children’s faces, kicking the children in the stomach, and beating them with a belt, a paddle, and a rubber hose, forcing to kneel on uncooked rice and stones for hours and were locked in their rooms without access to a bathroom. Over a dozen calls had been made on his behalf from teachers, family, and other community members to the county’s child abuse hotline.

From 2013 to 2017, Anthony had been under the supervision of DCFS, which failed to conduct thorough investigations per their own rules, ignored their regulations requiring interviews of the children alone, and continued to ignore the children’s specific complaints about the beatings.

On June 18, 2018, ten-year-old Anthony confided to his mom that he liked boys. Prior to this, Barron and Leiva had engaged in homophobic dialogue and behavior, as reported by family members. Leiva reportedly overheard this exchange between Anthony and his mother, and the following night proceeded to repeatedly drop the boy on his head, along with a number of the aforementioned abuses. A 911 call was made on June 20th, and Anthony died the following day.

Quote stating, "Unfortunately, what happened to Anthony happens far too often in the United States. Our foster care system is broken and I can only wish that one day, there will be no more cases where I represent the family of a child killed as a result of negligence by a social service agency."

Despite the hateful and torturous conditions of his homelife, Anthony was described by a teacher as being “mind-blowingly” positive. He did well in school, helped his teacher around the classroom, and didn’t engage in any appropriate behavior such as roughhousing or talking out of turn. Not that a child’s demeanor is indicative of the worthiness of life, but it is deeply tragic that a young life despite the horrific ordeals they had endured, was also such a vibrant positive being, only to ultimately be so swiftly snuffed out.

No amount of money will bring Anthony back, but what will live on is his story, and the drive to make sure it does not become a reality for another child ever again.

Learn more about the Anthony Avalos case and settlement:

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