After all the surgeries and waiting in a lengthy legal process, Megan Seabolt watches over healthy toddler Damon Gaddis running around.
“We’re very thankful that Damon got justice,” she said.
Eddye Pittmon of Talmo was convicted Jan. 15 of battery and first-degree child cruelty from allegations of scalding Damon, then 16 months old, in June 2014 at Discovering Basics day care.
The Clermont day care was later closed and the space reopened under new management.
“It was heartbreaking and nerve-wracking,” Seabolt said. “We were a little scared with it taking like total of eight or nine hours for a verdict.”
The jury took Thursday evening and most of Friday to reach a verdict, opting for a lesser-included offense of battery from aggravated battery.
Pittmon’s attorney Troy Millikan said he and his client were shocked by the verdict and plan to file an appeal.
Seabolt said things came out in the trial that she never knew, including testimony that Pittmon was mean toward Damon and would hit him with a hairbrush or ruler.
“It just kills me that I dropped him off there every day, trusting them,” Seabolt said.
Millikan presented other parents at trial that testified Pittmon was a caring teacher that treated children equally.
In August 2014, Damon started going to Kid’s World Christian Child Care in Gainesville.
Seabolt said her son had a tough time trusting new people.
“Of course, when he first started he was very timid of everybody,” Kid’s World director Chelsey Mitchell said. “But now, I guess you could say we’re like second family for us.”
Seabolt and Mitchell said Damon has returned to his normal smiling self, running around with the energy of any other toddler.
“I think he feels safe with us,” Mitchell said.
Damon graduated from the burn center and will likely not need more surgeries until he is a teenager, Seabolt said.
Discovering Basics owner Minnie Sue Dupree and site director Tara Miller, both of Gainesville, were also charged.
Dupree is charged with giving false statements to authorities, and Miller is charged with second-degree child cruelty, accused of not seeking medical attention for the child’s burn.
Dupree’s attorney Graham McKinnon previously told The Times they would fight to clear her name. Miller’s attorney Jeff Talley previously said Miller did nothing wrong and had no knowledge of any alleged incident.
Sentencing for Pittmon will occur in Superior Court Judge Jason Deal’s courtroom on Feb. 2.