exposing the dark side of adoption
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Ex-family feared for beaten youth in Hernando County


SPRING HILL — The friends and family members of world-famous clarinetist Anthony Gigliotti never liked the younger woman he married late in his life.

They thought she was unpleasant, even nasty.

They thought she was controlling and condescending and manipulative.

They also thought she was too stern with her adopted son. They thought he was as sweet as the woman was mean.

When her husband died, in 2001, she got everything — his money, his business, his name — and his three adult children and the rest of the family pretty much never talked to her again. They didn't want to. Sometimes, though, they wondered about the adopted son and worried about him.

The woman resurfaced last week in Hernando County. Tai-Ling Gigliotti, 50, was arrested, as was her live-in boyfriend, Anton Angelo, 45. They were charged with aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment for their alleged roles in the merciless beatings and captivity of her adopted son. Neither responded to requests for interviews.

The son is now 16. A week ago today, authorities say, he was stripped naked and battered with a 3-foot piece of wood and a metal-tipped water hose.

Interviews with friends, family members and former colleagues of Anthony Gigliotti tell a tale of a woman who tore apart one family and then disappeared. She turned up eight years later in a mug shot and horrific headlines.

"We are all shocked and appalled," said Laura Gigliotti, Anthony Gigliotti's daughter-in-law, "but not necessarily surprised."

"She's a horrible, horrible person, and I thought that before this," said Lynne Gigliotti, Anthony Gigliotti's daughter.

• • •

Anthony Gigliotti was one of the world's most famous and most accomplished classical clarinet players for most of the second half of the 20th century. He joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as its principal clarinetist in 1949 and stayed for 47 years. He designed a mouthpiece that is now named after him. The New York Times once wrote that he "helped shape clarinet-playing in this country, transmitting a tradition of flexibility and technical brilliance."

He was married to a pianist in the orchestra. Anthony and Amelia Gigliotti were married 36 years and had three children. They divorced in the mid 1980s.

He also taught music and had many students. One was Tai-Ling Han. She came to Philadelphia from Taiwan via California. She was roughly the age of his children when they got married.

His family disliked her from the start.

"I think she just wanted to be married to my father because of his status in the music community," Lynne Gigliotti said.

"I think she liked that more than anything," Laura Gigliotti said.

Anthony and Tai-Ling were raising a boy whom Tai-Ling had adopted from a relative in Taiwan.

At one point, family members said, Anthony was going to leave Tai-Ling because he couldn't stand living with her anymore. He wanted to take the boy with him because he didn't like the way she treated him. Family members said that they never saw Tai-Ling hit the boy but that he behaved differently when she was around. He would "snap to," Laura Gigliotti said. "He was ruled with an iron fist."

But then Anthony Gigliotti got sick. He had a deadly form of anemia. He decided not to leave is wife, according to family members, because he was afraid of who was going to take care of him at the end of his life.

The last summer he was alive, in 2001, the family got together at his home on the Jersey Shore. His children, including Lynne Gigliotti, who is a professional chef, made him spaghetti with crab sauce one night. That was his favorite. Tai-Ling made a snide comment about the meal.

He spent the last couple of months of his life in Camden, N.J., in the hospital. Family members said Tai-Ling made them feel unwelcome. She turned off the phone by his bed, they said, and didn't pass along messages from them or his friends. She wouldn't let his children visit. She wouldn't let his brothers visit.

"The only reason anybody in our family put up with her," Lynne Gigliotti said, "was that we wanted him to be happy."

Said Laura Gigliotti: "You either conformed and put up with her or she'd wipe you right out of his life."

Anthony Gigliotti died at age 79 in December 2001. Obituaries ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times.

At his memorial service, his friends and family members said, Tai-Ling Gigliotti had the funeral director approach Amelia Gigliotti — his first wife, the mother of his children — to ask her to leave. She didn't leave.

Amelia Gigliotti said on the phone last week when asked about Anthony Gigliotti's second marriage: "It was not a good marriage."

Family members thought Anthony Gigliotti's son was going to inherit the music business. They thought he was supposed to be the executor of the estate.

But somehow the will was changed. Tai-Ling Gigliotti got everything.

Not long after his death, family members said, a stranger called to say he had Anthony Gigliotti's diploma from the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music. He had bought it at a flea market in rural New Jersey.

"She must have just dumped everything that belonged to him and left," Laura Gigliotti said. "She stole all of his money, didn't give anything to his children, not one picture, not one family album. Nothing."

Tai-Ling Gigliotti and Anton Angelo have lived together for eight years, Hernando County deputies said. They moved into their home on Whitmarsh Street in Spring Hill in 2004 after buying it for $255,000. They have two Mercedes-Benzes. Neither Tai-Ling Gigliotti nor Angelo has a prior criminal record.

She is the owner of two music businesses. One bears the name of Anthony Gigliotti, the Gigliotti music shop, which is a slim, dark storefront in a strip center in Brooksville. The other business, 1Stop Clarinet & Sax Shop, is a mail-order business whose address is a post office box at a Postal Plus in Spring Hill.

Around their neighborhood, neighbors waved at them, and they waved back, but that was about it. They mostly kept to themselves. Neighbors sometimes saw the adopted son out in the yard, pulling weeds, pruning trees, but he was almost always in the fenced-in back yard. And he was never alone.

"He never left the property," neighbor Victor Weaver said. "Never."

Authorities said he hadn't attended school for two years.

He told authorities that he was forced to sleep in the hallway or the bathroom and that he was locked in there at night and when he was left home alone. He said the beatings had been going on for more than three years but had been getting more frequent and more violent in recent weeks.

The worst one, he said, was last Sunday.

On Monday, he broke through the locked bathroom door and ran to a neighbor's house, where he asked for help.

Investigators searched the house he fled and found the wood and the hose stained with blood.

The 111-pound youth is in state care, according to authorities, recovering from a fractured right forearm and bruises and cuts on his back, arms, hands, head and rear end.

Roger McKinney, one of Anthony Gigliotti's former students and longtime friends, said last week that in a way he was glad his friend was dead.

"He would die over this," Mc­Kinney said.

"This was his little boy," Laura Gigliotti said. She said Anthony Gigliotti "absolutely adored him."

She said she had contacted the Florida Department of Children and Families and offered to care for him. She's hoping they can adopt him. She's also hoping they can get him back.

"We want him to know," she said, "he has family here for him."

Staff writer Joel Anderson and staff researchers Carolyn Edds and Caryn Baird contributed to this report. John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114. Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8751.

An angry daughter

Anthony Gigliotti's daughter Lynne sent a letter to the Times about Tai-Ling Gigliotti, who is accused of abusing the child she and Anthony raised together. Here are excerpts:

My poor father was married to that woman for a number of years (he died in 2001). During that time she systematically alienated him from his entire family including his children, brothers and any extended family members. She was evidently accomplished at brainwashing adults as well as children.

My father loved (the boy) and on numerous occasions had to stop that woman from beating him. In the last year of his life, he was planning on leaving her and was going to try to get full custody. … Unfortunately for all concerned, he became very ill and was barely able to take care of himself.

After my father passed, I had no further contact with her. … I knew that (the boy) was going to be in for a rough time with her but if I had known what a true monster she was, I would have at least made an attempt to get him away from her. For that, I am truly sorry and probably will be for the rest of my life. …

I am going to make it my life's work to make sure that she never sets her eyes on (the boy) again. I want that woman to suffer for the way she has treated (him). … Hopefully the courts will drain her life force.

2009 Feb 15