LANCASTER, Calif. -- An attorney representing the father and other relatives of a 10-year-old Lancaster boy who died from abuse is demanding a criminal investigation of the social workers involved in the case.
Attorney Brian Claypool spoke at a news conference Tuesday morning and discussed the details of recently received Department of Children and Family Services records of child abuse allegations at the home of Anthony Avalos' mother and boyfriend.
An internal DCFS document reveals that in May 2016, Anthony's mother had been declared "unable or unwilling to protect the child from serious harm, including physical and sexual abuse," according to the Claypool Law Firm. The press conference was held to outline a case in support of a criminal investigation against select DCFS social workers.
The attorney said DCFS received more than 88 claims of abuse involving Anthony and his siblings, but the department failed to move the boy from the household.
"I have never seen more red flags of an impending death of a child. Eighteen visits, 88 allegations, 15 substantiated child abuse allegations and 15 more that we don't even know about. That is deliberate indifference for the life of a little boy," said Claypool.
Victor Avalos, Anthony's father, said he was living in Mexico at the time of his son's death. Holding back tears, he spoke about the heartbreak he's endured since his murder.
"I really wanted to be there for him. We were in touch as much as we could. Obviously, we're all angry. We need to make sure none of this happens to children everywhere," he said.
RELATED: Lancaster boy allegedly tortured, abused for at least 5 days before death
Victor Avalos explained that Anthony's mom would make it difficult for him to see his son, and much of their time together was through video calling, such as FaceTime.
Maria and David Barron, an aunt and uncle who have taken in Anthony and his siblings in the past, also spoke and gave their reasons why select DCFS social workers should be investigated. They said they had custody of the children for two weeks until DCFS workers turned them back over to their mother.
"Why? Why did DCFS fail him? Why did they not take action. He had so many people that loved him, so many people willing to take him in," said Maria Barron.
"They failed to do their job when they had proof, they had the evidence...Three years ago he was with us. He was alive and healthy, happy as can be with his siblings, and DCFS took him away from us and gave him back to Heather," the Barron couple said.
They said Anthony was a hero who sacrificed himself for his brothers and sisters.
"Anthony had to sacrifice his life in order to save his siblings," Maria Barron said. "He's a true hero. We will not stop fighting until justice is served."
RELATED: 10-year-old Lancaster boy's death may have been motivated by homophobia, officials say
Prosecutors say Anthony Avalos suffered at least five days of sustained torture before his death on June 21, according to court papers.
Prosecutors said Anthony's mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva are responsible for that torture.
The torture included slamming the boy onto the bedroom floor, whipping him with a belt and cord, pouring hot sauce into his mouth and forbidding him to use the bathroom, according to the documents. He was also allegedly forced to kneel on rice for long periods of time and forced to kneel or stand in a corner for several hours.
Sheriff's deputies were called to Anthony's home a day before he died at a hospital. His mother said the boy had fallen down stairs.
Anthony suffered a traumatic brain injury, prosecutors say. He also had reddened eyes and numerous bruises, cuts and scrapes on his forehead, nose, mouth, cheek, neck, legs, shoulder, hips, back, buttocks, stomach, ankle, legs and foot.
Authorities said Avalos' sexuality may have been a motivating factor
Lancaster abuse case: Attorney, relatives demand criminal investigation of social workers
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