Today, he is awaiting an autopsy.
"The boy reportedly told his mother 'he liked boys and girls,'" Brandon Nichols, the deputy director of the LA County Dept. of Children and Family Services, told the Los Angeles Times. Local reports say Anthony came out as "gay," but presumably bisexual would be more accurate.
"A report indicates that at least 16 calls had been made to the county's child abuse hotline since 2013 before Anthony died," WLWT reports. "Department of Children and Family Services Director Bobby Cagle confirmed that callers said Anthony and his siblings were denied food and water, sexually abused, beaten and bruised, dangled upside-down from a staircase, forced to crouch for hours, locked in small spaces with no access to the bathroom, forced to fight one another, and forced to eat from the trash."
Anthony "had injuries to his head, showed signs of malnourishment and likely died from abuse, the agency said in a statement. According to the Los Angeles Times, Anthony also had cigarette burns covering his body."
Heather Barron and Kareem Leiva, Anthony's mother and her boyfriend, "initially told first responders that the child was hurt as the result of an accidental fall. They have not yet been charged with any crimes related to the child’s death."
Nichols "said that his department’s caseworkers documented years ago that Leiva was allegedly a member of the MS-13 criminal gang, but that information was not classified by the workers as a safety threat necessitating Anthony’s removal from the home, and the department never moved to have him permanently removed," the LA Times adds.
“Just because someone has some affiliation [with MS-13], in and of itself would not have a conclusive effect,” Nichols said.
These initial descriptions of abuse and of a system that was unable or unwilling to intervene to protect the child are eerily reminiscent of another Los Angeles County child's murder.
Gabriel Fernandez's mother was sentenced to life in prison, her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, was given the death penalty. The horrific abuse he suffered, was described by prosecutors as worse than the torture "many prisoners of war" have faced.
Just 8-years old when he died, Gabriel Fernandez was murdered because his mother and her boyfriend thought he was gay.
Image: Screenshot via WLWT
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