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Stepdad Found Guilty Of Abuse After Heroic Server Rescues 11-Year-Old Boy Using Handwritten Note

Photo: Orange County Jail / Facebook
Timothy Lee Wilson, note written by server

A man has been found guilty of abusing his stepson over a year after a heroic restaurant server stepped in to save the boy.

Timothy Lee Wilson was arrested on multiple abuse charges after visiting an Orlando restaurant, Mrs. Potato, on New Year's Day last year.

A waitress noticed the boy had suffered injuries and discreetly offered help, saving him from the abuse.

Flavaine Carvalho, a server at the Orlando restaurant, grew suspicious about the 11-year-old boy's well-being after noticing his appearance.   

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The incident occured on January 1, when the little boy came into the restaurant with his parents and sat down at a table.

Carvalho immediately went to them to take their order, and that's when she first noticed the bruises on the boy's arms and face.

After observing that the father hadn’t ordered any food for the boy, Carvalho started connecting the dots.

Flavaine Carvalho quickly wrote a note that would ultimately save the child.

On a piece of paper, Carvalho wrote “Do you need help? Ok,” and showed it to the child while standing behind his parents so they wouldn’t be able to see it.

During a press conference, Carvalho said that she could see “he had a big scratch between his eyebrows. [A] couple of minutes later, I saw the bruise on the side of his eye. So I felt there was something wrong.”

After making several attempts to get the boy’s attention, Carvalho said he had finally confirmed that he did in fact need help, and she called the police.

In the 911 call Carvalho made to police, it was revealed that the parents had another child, who is four years old.

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"I'm super concerned and I don't know what to do, can you give me some advice? What I can do?" Carvalho is heard asking the dispatcher on the call, which you can listen to below. "The boy is with bruises and he's not eating. The others are eating."

Police recovered evidence of abuse from Timothy Lee Wilson's home.

According to a news release, investigators 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,” in Lee's home.

The child was deprived of food, tortured and made to do military-style exercises. He was even hung upside down from a door and handcuffed to a dolly cart on Christmas Day.

“We probably would’ve been talking about a potential homicide investigation if she [Carvalho] had not intervened when she did,” Orlando Chief of Police Orlando Rolón said at the time.

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

On June 6, prosecutors  announced Wilson was found 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.

Sentencing will be scheduled for August 19.

Police also stated that he didn't get to eat on a regular basis as punishment.

Both children that were with Wilson and Swann have been removed from their custody, and are said to be doing “very well, and are very happy right now.”

If it wasn’t for Flavine Carvalho and her immense bravery and willingness to help save a child from an awful situation, that little boy probably wouldn’t be here today.

There are ways to help child abuse victims. Being a child doesn't have to hurt.

Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States. According to the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 28.3 percent of adults report being physically abused as a child, and 10.6 percent of adults report being emotionally abused as a child. Physical abuse of a child is when a parent or caregiver causes any non-accidental physical injury to a child, including striking, kicking, burning, biting, hair pulling, choking, throwing, shoving, whipping, or any other action that injures a child.

Even if the caregiver didn’t mean to cause injury, when the child is injured it is abuse. When a parent or caregiver harms a child’s mental and social development, or causes severe emotional harm, it is considered emotional abuse. While a single incident may be abuse, most often emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior that causes damage over time.

There are many physical and behavioral signs of child abuse in both the child and the parent or caretaker. To learn more about these signs, visit the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline’s website. If you suspect a child you know is being abused physically or emotionally, contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline for more resources at 1-800-4-A-CHILD. 

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Chicago. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.