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Posted: February 24, 2014

Couple accused of caring more about play than hospitalized son speak out: ‘They are making us sound so bad’


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            Couple accused of caring more about play than hospitalized son speak out: ‘They are making us sound so bad’
Champagne Gillis (left), 31, and her boyfriend Thomas Phillips, 37, face a charge of child abuse after a 3-year-old boy had to be hospitalized for severe malnutrition.

By Alexandra Seltzer

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

A Boynton Beach couple came to their defense Monday afternoon after city police said they neglected their now hospitalized 3-year-old son by only feeding him apple sauce and milk since birth.

“They are making us sound so bad,” Champagne Gillis told The Palm Beach Post. “My little boy is really sick. I didn’t realize know how sick he was.”

Gillis said she took her son Sebastian to the emergency room Friday after he wouldn’t drink from his bottle. A Boynton Beach police officer was called to JFK Medical Center in Atlantis and was informed the boy had to be taken to Palms West Children Hospital because of severe malnourishment, according to an arrest report.

Thomas Phillips, 38, and his girlfriend Gillis, 31, were soon arrested and face a charge of cruelty toward a child. They have since been released from the Palm Beach County Jail after each posting a $3,000 bond.

Sebastian was described as weighing less than 25 pounds, and he had sores in his mouth which made it difficult him to swallow. Gillis told police she brought the boy to the hospital because he was feeling ill. He had diarrhea and a 102-degree fever for about seven days before the hospital visit, according to an arrest report.

Police said Gillis told them Sebastian doesn’t like solid food so he’s only had apple sauce or milk since birth. She isn’t happy with the doctor her son was seeing, so she has since turned to homeopathic medicine which she learned about from a doctor she met while playing a role-play game in West Palm Beach, the officer wrote in the report.

The boy doesn’t like toothbrushes, the mother told police, so she hasn’t brushed his teeth. And she figured her son just bit his tongue and the sores would heal.

Police reported when the officer told Gillis her son might be in the hospital for days, she said she had a prior engagement and would have to get the boy’s grandmother to watch him so she and Philips could assist backstage for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is playing at the bar Respectable Street in downtown West Palm Beach.

However, Gillis and Phillips said they were just telling the officer that that was their plan for the night before this happened.

“Real life happens while you make plans,” Phillips said.

Gillis added, “No one person can stay at the hospital 24/7.”

The mother of three said she suffers from Fibromyalgia, and smokes marijuana instead of taking pain medicine. She said she keeps it away from her son by smoking it in the bedroom while the boy is with his father in another room.

Gillis said she’s known her son was sick and has tried getting help from doctors but no one helped her. She noticed her son was cranky but thought maybe it was just a cold or something he caught from another child.

“He must have been in so much pain and he was never whiny,” she said.

The state Department of Children and Families has opened an investigation into the couple, who are now allowed only supervised visits with Sebastian.

Twitter: @alexseltzer

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