Unfinished Business

A son denied becomes a festering campaign issue haunting Commissioner Eggelletion as Election Day approaches

She was moderately light-skinned and relatively well-to-do — and that made her a target, she says. Her tormentors especially liked to mess with her long hair.

One day as she studied in a seat by herself, one of them cut her ponytail clean off. Sanders retaliated with the only weapon she had.

"I stabbed her in the face," she says.

The girl wasn't seriously injured, but skin broke on her face. When it was time for administrators to hand down discipline, the bus driver vouched for Sanders, saying that she was a quiet and polite student who'd been driven to the brink by bullies.

The girl who'd made the egregious snip was expelled from the Broward County school system. Sanders wasn't punished.

The story exemplifies the two sides of Angie Sanders. She's neat, reserved, and proper; everything needs to be just so. But when she feels wronged, she knows how to fight. And she says she's always had a rebellious side that wanted to escape the confined world her parents tried to impose on her.

Her parents expected her to be perfect, she says. Her father, Elbert Rice, was the longtime owner of a citrus business who played saxophone and led a popular local group called the East Wind Band. Musical talent runs in the family; Sanders' brother, Marcus Rice, was part of the popular hip-hop band Afro-Rican, which produced a classic dance-club hit titled Give It All You Got.

She says both her father and mother were loving but strict.

"I told them that they wanted to separate me from society," she recalls. "I was a cheerleader, and I was popular enough, but I didn't go to McDonald's after the games with everybody or do a lot of other things the other kids did.

"Sometimes, I would purposefully get in trouble just to try to prove to them that I wasn't perfect. I'd intentionally get into fights."

When she transferred from Nova to Dillard High School to begin her senior year in 1979, she still had a good-girl image, no matter how she might have tried to prove otherwise. She'd already earned most of her credits, so she only had to attend a couple of classes a day. One was an American government class with Eggelletion.

She earned school credit in the class as a student aide to Eggelletion. She was assigned to his room for one period a day to run errands, help check papers, and take messages. She thought he was a nice teacher. Nice-looking too.

He apparently felt the same way about her. One day, he had a talk with her after class.

"I noticed you're quiet; you don't talk very much," she remembers him saying to her. "You seem mature. Do you date?"

"Yeah, I can date," she said.

"What I say to you I want to stay between me and you."

"OK."

"I like you, and I want to see you."

The idea excited her. She wasn't totally inexperienced. She says she'd had one longtime boyfriend with whom she'd been physically intimate. Sanders knew her teacher was married with two children. It was no secret — he was even named Father of the Year at Piney Grove Baptist Church, which they both attended.

But she was already hooked. She told him she'd like to meet him. He called later, and they met at the bank, where they kissed for the first time. He seemed confident and sure during that first encounter. She says he didn't push her to have sex. Instead, after they kissed and fondled each other on the couch, he told her she should get home because it was a school night.

The next time they met was a little different; Eggelletion seemed a bit nervous. She says this time he had her meet him at a friend's house. There alone, she says he offered her a glass of wine, which she didn't accept, and put a pornographic movie on the VCR, which she didn't watch. Soon, they were in bed together.

And she says she knew she was in love. They met at every opportunity for weeks after that. Eggelletion would call her on the phone in her room, which was equipped with its own line. He would tell her about other students in a way that made her feel like an adult. He would tell her secrets and take her out on the Inverrary Golf Course, where she would sit in the cart while he golfed, sometimes by himself, sometimes with buddies. He even took her out to eat at restaurants a couple of times.

Her sister, Deborah Thomas, remembers Eggelletion coming to their house to pick up Angie in a Camaro Z-28 when their parents weren't home. "I remember it like it was yesterday, but I didn't know what to think," says Thomas, who was a freshman at the time. "We knew what was going on. A lot of people knew what was going on. His family and our family were friendly."

He talked a lot about growing his businesses and told her his real ambition was to enter politics. He portrayed himself as an American success story, a boy who grew up in a small house outside Tallahassee where he shared a room with siblings and watched his mother cleaning white families' homes. He said that such austere beginnings gave him the motivation to serve in office to help fellow black people get opportunities to better their lives.

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