BROOKSVILLE — A week ago, he called the youth a liar. Now, an attorney for the couple accused of brutally beating and imprisoning a 16-year-old says the teen was the aggressor.
Speaking outside a Hernando County courtroom Tuesday, the attorney for the teen's adoptive mother, Tai-Ling Gigliotti, and her live-in boyfriend, Anton Angelo, suggested his injuries were self-inflicted.
"He was a violent young man," said Los Angeles defense attorney John Feiner, a former federal prosecutor. "He caused injuries to Ms. Gigliotti as well. The photographs (of those) injuries will surface at trial.
"She was frightened of him," he continued, "though she took good and long care of him. She did her best as an adoptive parent, and he violated her trust."
The remarks came moments after Angelo entered a not guilty plea and a week after Feiner labeled the teen a "pathological liar or a sociopath" in his first comments about the case.
Hernando Sheriff Richard Nugent reacted angrily to the attorney's remarks, calling them absolutely ridiculous.
"I think they've tried to flip it on this poor kid who has endured a living hell," Nugent said in an interview Tuesday. "We are not impressed that he attacked a 16-year-old kid in the newspaper."
Gigliotti, the 50-year-old widow of world-renowned classical clarinetist Anthony Gigliotti, is charged with five counts of aggravated child abuse and one count of felony child abuse. She entered an initial not guilty plea March 10.
Angelo, a 45-year-old music producer, faces two counts of aggravated child abuse.
The shocking story began to unfold after the teen escaped Feb. 9 from the barricaded bathroom of his Spring Hill home. Authorities found him with bruises on nearly every part of his body, a broken right forearm and cuts on his buttocks so severe he couldn't sit.
On Feb. 8, Gigliotti ordered him to strip naked and bound his hands with packing tape, the teen told authorities. She then beat him repeatedly with a 3-foot-long wooden stick and a metal-tipped water hose. She locked him in the bathroom and cut the power before leaving the home.
Reports indicate Angelo interceded to help Gigliotti regain control after the teen tried to take the wooden stick from her. Authorities said Angelo also helped lock the youth in the bathroom at times.
Feiner, who specializes in child abuse cases, disputed the story.
"It's simply that the allegations of the alleged victim are untrue," he said. "None of what he says happened happened."
But Feiner refused to provide specifics to rebut the teen's story. He said he didn't want to try the case in the "one-sided press."
Sheriff Nugent said the location and degree of the teen's injuries indicate they were not self-inflicted. "If anyone is a 'pathological liar' — it takes one to know one," he said, speaking of Feiner.
Feiner said he plans to represent both Gigliotti and Angelo, if the judge allows. They will appear in Circuit Judge Jack Springstead's courtroom July 10.
The teenager remains in state foster care.
John Frank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 754-6114.