Teen victim describes being locked in bathroom in Hernando abuse case
BROOKSVILLE - Defense attorneys claim a woman accused of beating a teen and locking him in a bathroom was instead the victim of abuse by the youth, whom they say lied, stole and attempted to sexually assault her.
During the first day of trial for Tai-Ling Gigliotti, 51, jurors heard testimony from the now 17-year-old teen who gave a detailed account of two years he claims he spent mainly locked in a bathroom - escaping mostly to take food.
If he was caught, he said Gigliotti would beat him - in more than one instance by tying his hands behind his back and hitting him with a large stick or garden hose in the back, buttocks and elsewhere on his body.
The teenager's name is not being published because of the HernandoToday policy not to identify juvenile victims of abuse.
Speaking before a jury of six women and one man on Tuesday, the teenager said he had lived with Gigliotti since he was 5 or 6 years old and told of how he progressively was forced to sleep in a hallway on a sleeping bag before eventually being forced to stay in the bathroom.
At first, he said he was let out more frequently for eating and doing chores around the house. However, he added eventually he was forced to stay in the bathroom more and more - often being led in there before Gigliotti would lock the bathroom door from the outside.
Eventually, the teen said he would go in on his own with little to no prompting from Gigliotti.
"It was grilled into me that I had to stay in there," the teen said. "I didn't try to call the police or anyone because she told me I would be deported back to Taiwan, and I didn't want that to happen."
Following one beating in early 2009 and having not been fed for a long time, the teen said he felt he needed to escape the home for fear he would be killed.
Earlier Tuesday morning, defense attorneys told jury members stories of the teen being beaten and starved were false and that Gigliotti and her former fiance, Anton Angelo, struggled dealing with the youth due to his violent tendencies and manipulative behavior.
Attorney Jimmy Brown said the teen attempted to sexually assault Gigliotti on two occasions and that once she used a garden hose to knock the teen off of her during an incident in the laundry room.
"I'm letting you know that's not a crime. That's self-defense," Brown said. He added the jury would be learning more about the teen later in the trial.
Gigliotti is facing two charges of aggravated child abuse and faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.
Angelo was sentenced last month to five years probation on a charge of aggravated child abuse. He pleaded guilty in March in exchange for his testimony against his co-defendant.
Reporter Jeff Schmucker can be reached at 352-544-5271 or email@example.com.