Stepdad Convicted After Restaurant Manager Held Up Sign Asking Child If He Needed Help

A manager at a restaurant in Orlando, Florida took action after noticing a young boy sitting away from his family, not eating or drinking, with bruises on him.

A homemade sign written by a restaurant manager, asking "Do you need help?" at the top and "Ok" at the bottom.

A manager at a restaurant in Orlando, Florida took action after noticing a young boy sitting away from his family, not eating or drinking, with bruises on him.

Photo by: Orlando Police Department

Orlando Police Department

A Florida man has been convicted of child abuse after a restaurant manager secretly asked a child if he needed help and he nodded yes.

On New Year’s Day 2021, Flaviane Carvalho, a manager and server at Mrs. Potato Restaurant in Orlando, Florida, knew that something was wrong when she saw an 11-year-old boy sitting at the far end of a table, apart from his parents and sister. She was further alarmed when the boy didn’t eat or drink anything as the rest of his family enjoyed a meal.

“Minute after minute, I was feeling something stronger and stronger that pushed me to pay attention to the boy,” Carvalho observed. She then noticed bruises on the boy and a quarter-sized scab between his eyebrows.

Carvalho sprung to action. She used a handwritten sign to communicate with the boy outside of his parents’ sight. On the sign, she asked if needed help, and the boy nodded that he did. So, Carvalho went and dialed 911.

Police officers came and spoke to the boy, who told them that his stepfather repeatedly beat him, according to USA TODAY. Timothy Lee Wilson, the boy’s stepfather, was arrested on a child abuse charge, and additional child abuse and neglect charges were added within days.

Police discovered that the 11-year-old boy had been tortured and maliciously punished. CBS News reported that he had been deprived of food and water for days at a time. He was hung upside down from a door from his neck and feet, and he was restrained and hit in multiple ways. He was even handcuffed to a dolly cart on Christmas Day, and authorities discovered several weapons that had been used against the boy.

On June 6, 2022, Wilson, 36, was found 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, stated PEOPLE. He will be sentenced in late August.

The boy’s mother, Kristen Swann, was arrested not long after the restaurant visit, and her trial is scheduled for July 2022. She has been charged with several felony abuse charges, including neglect of a child and aggravated abuse.

Flaviane Carvalho was hailed as a hero. Her boss, Rafaela Cabede, set up a GoFundMe page to manage the donations people wanted to make to reward the restaurant worker for her heroism. Also, January 28 was declared as Flaviane Carvalho Child Advocacy Day in the state of Florida.

“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, reported Yahoo News.

The boy and his sister who Carvalho helped rescue from abusers are doing well. Carvalho even updated her GoFundMe page to say that the 11-year-old boy is now happy, healthy, and being raised with a lot of love. She also observed that justice was served with the conviction of the boy’s stepfather.

On the day Carvalho was honored for her heroism, she said, “I want to leave a message that, ‘Hey, let’s wake up. Let’s look around and love our neighbors. If you see something, say something.’”

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