DCF declines to pursue case after witness claims to see child punished at restaurant

The Department of Children and Families has declined to pursue a case after a witness called police about what was viewed as excessive force used on a child at a restaurant in The Villages.

The witness called law enforcement on the evening of July 27 after she saw a man remove his three-year-old daughter from Chili’s restaurant on Avenida Central, according to an incident report from the Lady Lake Police Department. The father later admitted to police he had spanked the child in the parking. The witness claimed the father had spanked the child so hard she was finding it hard to catch her breath, the report said.

The child had no visible marks or bruises. Police contacted DCF, who concluded “there was not enough evidence to open a case.”