[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
A 36-year-old man has been convicted of child abuse, all thanks to the quick thinking of a restaurant worker.
According to a statement from the Orange County’s Attorney’s Office obtained by People† Timothy Lee Wilson was found guilty Monday of two counts of false imprisonment of a child under 13, three counts of aggravated child abuse with a weapon, four counts of aggravated child abuse and one count of child neglect.
The stepfather was arrested on January 1, 2021 at the Mrs. Potato Restaurant in Orlando after one of the waitresses suspected child abuse and called 911. Flavane Carvalho found the little boy sitting “separately” from the rest of the family and the only one without a meal or drink. She also saw that he was bruised on the side of his eye and arms, scraped between his eyebrows and was malnourished at the time.
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Concerned, the server secretly wrote a note and held it up as he stood behind his parents, asking if he was okay. He first nodded ‘yes’. Flavane, however, was not convinced. A few minutes later, she wrote a second message that read “Do you need help?” When the child nodded yes, she immediately called the authorities. The statement said:
“When Ms. Carvalho noted injuries to the victim, she signaled to determine if he needed help by holding up a sign out of Mr Wilson’s sight, and he acknowledged that he did.”
Police subsequently took Wilson into custody. They soon launched an investigation into the case and soon discovered how the child had been subjected to horrific abuse and torture at the hands of his stepfather. Law enforcement officials said he was “tortured for days, maliciously punished and deprived of food and water.”
A search warrant also revealed that “the victim was kept in a separate hotel room used for storage away from Mr. Wilson, the victim’s mother and younger sibling.” Duct tape was also used to cover the peephole in the boys’ room. The Orange County State Attorney’s Office added:
He was routinely denied food and drink, had to do military-style exercises, hung upside down from a door by his neck and feet, and at one point handcuffed to a dolly cart on Christmas Day. Officers found multiple items that were used as weapons. used: a bent metal pole, a wooden broom, a cart, handcuffs and lashings that were used to tie up the victim.”
Wilson will now be sentenced at the end of August. Meanwhile, the boy’s mother, Kristen Swann, who was arrested days after the restaurant incident, faces charges of felony abuse, including child neglect, serious abuse and failure to report child abuse. The 32-year-old allegedly confessed to investigators that she was aware of the abuse and did nothing to stop it. In addition, she never sought medical attention for her injured son. However, she pleaded innocent and will appear in court in July.
After the trial, Flavane responded to the guilty verdict in a… GoFundMe which was founded last year to reward her heroic actions. She wrote:
“Justice served!! Yesterday was the day of the trial against the attacker. He was charged with 10 crimes, now he will spend the rest of his life in prison as he was sentenced to 2 life sentences. Thank God the boy is doing very well and is being raised with lots of love. He is happy and healthy.”
Glad to hear!
Flavane’s keen eye and quick thinking undoubtedly saved his life.
[Image via GoFundMe, Orange County Jail]