What to Know
- The aunt and uncle of Anthony Avalos are pushing for a criminal investigation of the social workers in their nephew's case.
- It comes after one social worker is heard laughing during a report of alleged abuse at the 10-year-old boy's home.
- The call comes years before the boy was tortured and killed allegedly by his mother and her boyfriend.
The aunt and uncle of Anthony Avalos are pushing for a criminal investigation of the social workers in their nephew's case, after one social worker is heard laughing during a report of alleged abuse at the 10-year-old boy's home.
The call comes years before the boy was tortured and killed allegedly by his mother and her boyfriend.
David and Maria Barron say they're disturbed about the 2015 call to report suspected abuse of one of Anthony's brothers, Angel.
"Why does a kid have to die for them to do their jobs right?" David Barron said.
A social worker can be heard laughing and when an operator asks about the allegations, according to audio of the call obtained by the NBC4 I-Team, she says "to cover our butt."
The audio was released as part of a grand jury transcript that was unsealed in the criminal case of Anthony's mother and her boyfriend earlier this week.
Heather Maxine Barron, 29, and Kareem Ernesto Leiva, 32, have pleaded not guilty to charges that they killed Anthony and tortured him in the days leading up to his June 21 death.
Child welfare workers visited the home and the children were regularly interviewed and checked for signs of physical abuse, according to a county report. Reports of physical abuse were deemed unfounded or inconclusive, though social workers found some instances of general neglect and at least one case of substantiated sexual abuse.
In court this week, the prosecutor introduced another police report discovered after the grand jury in October of an additional allegation of sexual assault. It is unclear who is the suspect or the victim.
Leiva's attorney says the allegations do not involve his client. The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services began a new investigation this week, after the release of the phone call. A DCFS review this summer following Anthony's death found the need to retrain social workers on evaluating risk factors and increased collaboration with law enforcement.
In that call the social worker notes injuries but an LA County Sheriff's deputy who was supposed to follow up testified he was told to write down there were no marks or bruises and admits to never going to see Angel. In 2016, another report of alleged abuse involving Angel brings the same deputy to the Avalos home.
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He speaks to another sibling but doesn't talk to Angel. He then tells the mother that the case was closed.
"They need to change the whole system," David Barron said.
The Sheriff's Department did not respond to a request for comment.
The six social workers who testified for the grand jury were actively working for DCFS and no disciplinary action had been taken when they took the stand, according to prosecutors.
The DA would not comment if there is a criminal investigation against the social workers.