A Night of Terror, a Life of Anguish
Man Traces Rage to 1971 Trip with Church Brother
By Amy Driscoll
March 24, 2002
THIS HAS BEEN LAWYERED BY ROBERT BEATTY
Growing up, he always knew something was wrong. Something about his life made him irrationally angry.
But for 20 years, he couldn't put a name to it. His readiness with his fists, the unnecessary confrontations with police, the inability to lie comfortably in bed -- none of it made any sense.
It would take decades for the Broward County man to connect the rage of his adult life to the terror visited on him as an adolescent one November night in 1971, during a field trip with his biology teacher, a brother of the Marianist order in the Catholic Church.
He was 15 then, part of a staunchly Catholic family, attending a Broward Catholic school. He loved the outdoors, so when Brother Anthony Parlangeli offered a hiking and camping field trip, he jumped at the chance.
But when the boy showed up for the trip, there were no other students. He asked why.
"Parlangeli replied that they had all canceled. As it turns out, there were no other boys invited by Parlangeli," court documents would later reveal.
They went on the trip anyway, fishing and hiking at Lake Okeechobee. By day's end, Parlangeli said he was too tired to set up camp and suggested a hotel room. The boy was disappointed, but the brother -- who had taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience -- insisted. He checked the two of them into a single room at a Holiday Inn.
And that is where he allegedly drugged and then raped the young man.
As the Catholic church across the nation undergoes a seismic shock of recognition that it has allowed child molesters to flourish in its midst, such stories are becoming increasingly public. The case of Parlangeli -- along with others such as that of Father Rocco D'Angelo, whose 31-year Florida career and allegations of abuse were detailed in Saturday's Herald -- offers yet another example of the secrecy that has shrouded the church and shielded the guilty for so long.
According to court documents filed in a 1994 lawsuit, the sleeping pills Parlangeli administered caused the boy to fall into a coma and begin gagging and convulsing. Parlangeli panicked, tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and then took the boy to nearby Glades General Hospital. He had been sodomized, court records would later say.
"He is clothed only in his shorts, and there are stains on his shorts, which appear to be blood stains," according to medical records quoted in court papers.
Parlangeli was arrested and charged with "intent to commit a crime against nature," later pleading to a lesser charge of administering drugs illegally and spending a brief time in jail. His Belle Glade police arrest form from Nov. 27, 1971, lists an alias of "Brother Tony."
School officials -- Marianist brothers as well -- immediately began pressuring the boy's father not to tell him what happened and to drop the criminal charges, court records say. The boy was unconscious, they reasoned, and had no memory of the rape. The father was told to "keep this thing quiet. . .for the sake of the Catholic church" and the school, according to a sworn statement given by the boy's father more than 20 years later.
When the boy recovered, he was told he had food poisoning, warned not to talk about it and sent back to school (the Herald is not identifying the school to protect the victim's identity). The father later told lawyers that church officials also asked him to stay quiet.
"I was a parent whose boy was assaulted, drugged by a member of the Catholic church, a brother," the boy's father said in his statement. "I was brought up to believe that a priest or a nun or Catholic brother could do no wrong, and to bring any charges or any accusations against them was a sacrilege against my religion, and so I didn't."
A short time later, Parlangeli was transferred to Marianist headquarters in Baltimore, where he worked in the administrative building where he would have no contact with children, according to Provincial Stephen Glodek, head of the east coast province of the Marianists.
While there, according to court records, "he sodomized another boy and was released from his vows," according to the statement of uncontested facts submitted by the first victim's attorney in the lawsuit filed in 1994.
Glodek says he has no record or knowledge of a second assault by Parlangeli. "He worked here for about six months and then left voluntarily," Glodek said. He said it is possible that a second assault might not be listed in official records.
Parlangeli eventually pursued a career as a nurse -- with the help of a 1983 letter from the Marianists that extolled his virtues as a teacher, noting "he was very successful in his working with the students in biology," according to court records.
His Broward victim, meanwhile, grew to adulthood without conscious knowledge of what had happened. Then in 1992, while listening to a radio program on incest and rape, "he started to experience anxiety, phobias, panic attacks and night terrors," the records say.
That's when he looked up his medical records for the first time and learned of the assault.
He "became enraged," court records say. "It then dawned on him that the terrible outlook and general anger he has endured during his adult lifetime was directly related to this incident."
Mental evaluations diagnosed him with delayed post-traumatic stress disorder and court documents described problems including "a strong hatred for and distrust of authority, an overcompensating "macho man" mindset and the inability to make a permanent commitment with a woman."
In 1994, he filed a lawsuit asking for $5 million in damages from the Archdiocese of Miami, the Marianist Society, the school and Parlangeli, among other school officials.
Before the case could go to trial, court documents filed by his lawyer, Miami attorney Ronald Weil, say the Marianists settled for $300,000. The archdiocese made its own secret settlement deal with the plaintiff, according to spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta. She declined to give the amount.
Today, the boy is a man who has never married, no longer considers himself Catholic and doesn't believe in God. He is still unable to talk about his allegations, in part because of the confidential settlement with the archdiocese.
Parlangeli is dead. After leaving the brotherhood, he married, had three children and lived in California until 1997, when he died of a heart attack, according to his wife, Alice Parlangeli. His death came a week after the case was settled.
"He was a very loving person, everyone enjoyed him," she said Friday. "What's past is past."
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