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Florida Stepfather Convicted Of Multiple Abuse Charges After Waitress Helped Rescue Boy

Nearly a year after a restaurant server saved an abused boy by writing him a note to ask if he needed help, a Florida jury found his stepfather guilty of multiple charges of abuse. 

By Constance Johnson
Waitress Sign Pd

The stepfather of an abused and neglected boy rescued by a Florida restaurant server and her manager was found guilty of multiple counts of child abuse charges.

On Monday — after just two hours of deliberation — a six-person jury in Orange County found Timothy Lee Wilson, 36, guilty of two counts 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 a statement from Monique H. Worrell, State Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit.

The boy's rescue began when Wilson visited the Mrs. Potato restaurant in Orlando — a Brazilian-inspired restaurant once featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives" — with the family on New Year’s Day of 2021.

Wilson did not order food for his then-11-year-old stepson, nor let the boy order any.

Flavaine Carvalho was serving the family of four, and noticed that the boy had bruises on his face and arms.

Concerned, Carvalho wrote a note asking the boy, “Do you need help? Ok.” She showed it to the boy while standing behind Wilson so that the man could not see it, according to prosecutors.

“And this is when he nodded, yes,” Carvalho said, according to ClickOrlando.com.

Carvalho reached out to the owner of the restaurant and they both agreed that she should call police.

“I was used like a tool from God to help him,” Carvalho said, according to WESH. “We need to pay attention for the ones that are in need, and step forward to do something to change the situation.”

A police handout of Timothy Wilson II

Authorities later learned that the boy “had been tortured, maliciously punished and deprived of food and water for days at a time.”

Investigators discovered through a search warrant that the boy was kept in a separate hotel room used for storage, away from Wilson, his mother and a younger sibling, according to prosecutors.

Duct tape covered the peep hole to the victim’s room.

Prosecutors said he was frequently deprived of food and beverages, forced to do military-style exercises, hung upside down from a door, tied down and beaten.

On Christmas Day, he was handcuffed to a moving dolly.

Officers found items used as weapons including a bent metal pole, a wooden broom, a dolly, handcuffs and ratchet straps used to tie the victim up.

Authorities said Carvalho prevented a tragedy by saving the boy’s life.

“We probably would have been talking about a potential homicide investigation if she had not intervened when she did,” Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón said, according to WESH.

“We firmly believe that without her asking him if he needed help and calling 911, he would have gone even longer without eating or drinking and continuing to be tortured at the hands of Mr. Wilson,” Assistant State Attorney Lauryn Day said, according to the station. “Had she not said anything, I believe law enforcement and the child protection team thought he probably could have died.”

Carvalho testified at the trial and has stayed in contact with the boy.

“Now he’s healthy. He’s being loved. It’s clear on his face and the way he’s acting he’s much better now,” Carvalho said according to WESH. “Justice was served.”

A GoFundMe page created for Carvalho's benefit has raised more than $45,000 for the server. The fundraising goal was $10,000.

The boy’s mother, Kristen Swann, was also arrested on two counts of child neglect, ClickOrlando.com reported.

She allegedly told authorities that she was aware of the abuse.

Wilson’s sentencing is scheduled for August 19.