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A Florida man has been found guilty of child abuse one year after a waitress’ keen eye and quick thinking saved his abuse victim, resulting in his initial arrest, officials said.
Timothy Lee Wilson, 36, was found guilty of multiple child abuse charges stemming from an arrest on New Year’s Day in 2021, when his waitress, Flaviane Carvalho, suspected he may have been abusing a child in his care, WESH reported.
Wilson was found guilty Monday of false imprisonment of a child under the age of 13, three counts of aggravated child abuse with a weapon, four counts of aggravated child abuse and one count of child neglect, according to the report.
“Justice was served,” Carvalho said after the verdict was announced, WESH reported. “Now he [the victim] is healthy. He’s being loved. It’s clear on his face and the way he’s acting that he’s much better now.”
The secret note
In 2021, Carvalho, a manager at Mrs. Potato Restaurant in Orlando, Florida, was waitressing a table for Wilson and his family on New Year’s Day when she noticed the man had not ordered any food for an 11-year-old boy at the table, FOX 35 of Orlando reported.
Wilson, the boy’s stepfather, reportedly told Carvalho that the child would eat at home, but that did little to assuage her conscience after she noticed cuts and bruises on the boy’s face and arms. So she acted.
“I could see he had a big scratch between his eyebrows,” Carvalho later told FOX 35. “Couple of minutes later, I saw a bruise on the side of his eye. So I felt there was something really wrong.”
Without alerting the boy’s parents, Carvalho — who has two children of her own — gained the boy’s attention and quickly passed him a secret note asking if he needed help. The boy nodded in the affirmative and Carvalho called the police.
“I am relieved knowing that the abuser is paying for his crimes and the boy has a better chance in life,” Carvalho told WESH.
An abusive home
During a press conference, police described what the child had gone through as “torture,” FOX 35 reported.
“Seeing what that 11-year-old had to go through, it shocks your soul,” police said.
It was later learned that the boy’s stepfather routinely abused and tortured him. Medical officials also discovered the boy had bruises across the whole of his body and that he was underweight, per the report.
“I was used like a tool from God to help him,” Carvalho told WESH. “We need to pay attention for the ones that are in need, and step forward to do something to change the situation.”
“The little boy was so brave. He not only saved himself, he saved his little sister by standing up to this man,” Carvalho told DailyMailTV. “I am so proud of him. He is the hero.”
Officials also said on more than one occasion the boy was isolated, forced to starve as punishment, was hung upside down, and spent Christmas Day handcuffed to a dolly, FOX 35 reported. He was also forced to complete rigorous exercises and if he failed he would be beaten, officials said.
Carvalho testified to the abuse at the trial and was credited with saving the boy’s life.
“We probably would’ve been talking about a potential homicide investigation if she had not intervened when she did,” Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said, per WESH.
The boy’s mother, Kristen Swann, was also charged with two counts of child neglect after she told police she knew about the abuse and did not intervene, officials said.
Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Monique H. Worrell announced the jury’s verdict and Wilson’s sentencing date was set for Aug.19, 2022.
More than a year later, Carvalho reportedly remains in contact with the boy.