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Stepfather found guilty of child abuse after waitress noticed bruises, called police

By Chelsea Robinson

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    ORLANDO, Florida (WESH) — An Orange County stepfather has been found guilty of child abuse after a local waitress noticed a child in distress and called the police.

In 2021, Orlando police said Flaviane Carvalho, a waitress at Mrs. Potato Restaurant, noticed bruises on an 11-year-old boy and then secretly flashed him a handwritten note asking him if he needed help. The boy nodded yes and Carvalho called the police.

The child was hospitalized and medical staff found the boy was covered in bruises and underweight.

Investigators later learned that the boy’s stepfather, 36-year-old Timothy Lee Wilson, had tortured the child and deprived him of food and water for days at a time.

Officials say the boy was isolated, starved, made to do military-style exercises, hung upside down from a door, and handcuffed to a dolly cart on Christmas Day.

“Officers recovered multiple items used as weapons—a bent metal pole, a wooden broom, a dolly cart, handcuffs, and ratchet straps used to tie the victim up,” a news release states.

Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Monique H. Worrell announced Monday that a jury had found Wilson guilty 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.

Wilson will be sentenced on Aug. 19, 2022, at 10:30 a.m.

As for the boy’s mother, Kristen Swann, police say she admitted to knowing about the abuse and failing to seek medical care for the boy. She was arrested and charged with two counts of child neglect.

Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said he believes Carvalho’s actions saved the boy’s life.

“We probably would’ve been talking about a potential homicide investigation if she had not intervened when she did,” Rolon said.

Carvalho’s heroics made national headlines and the restaurant received an outpouring of support from people who wanted to say thank you.

Carvalho’s boss created a GoFundMe account, and donations quickly surpassed $40,000.

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