Tawana Brawley — 1987 rape hoaxer — pays first installment to attorney she defamed

Tawana Brawley — 1987 rape hoaxer — pays first installment to attorney she defamed

Brawley and Sharpton in 1987
Brawley and Sharpton in 1987

Are you familiar with the name Tawana Brawley? “Reverend” and MSNBC host Al Sharpton is. He was one third of the triumvirate of race hucksters that billed itself as the “Brawley family advisors” in the infamous 1987 case of a black teen from upstate New York who, after going missing for four days, turned up smeared with feces and racial slurs, claiming she had been raped and sodomized by three white men.

One of those accused was Dutchess County Assistant District Attorney Steven Pagones, who was later exonerated after forensic tests revealed no evidence of sexual assault. (In addition, the epithets scrawled on Brawley’s torso, which included “KKK” and “n*gger,” were upside down, leading a grand jury to suspect that the genius had written them herself.)

After Pagones’s life had already unraveled — his marriage fell apart and he felt forced to resign his post as prosecutor — he sued the “advisers” and Brawley for defamation. The three men were ordered to pay him a total of $345,000 in damages, Brawley $185,000. The three paid (Sharpton’s portion of the award, $185,000, was covered by friends, including the late Johnnie Cochran), but Brawley and her mother vanished like cockroaches into the woodwork.

That was until January of this year, when the New York Post located Brawley, now 40, living in Hopewell, Va., where she is a nurse. And finally, 25 years after the fact, she has begun to pay.

Last week, she sent Steven Pagones ten court-ordered checks totaling $3,764.61. And she will continue to pay him $627 per month each month for the rest of her life — unless she accepts the “out” Pagones has offered her.

Despite the damages he incurred, he is willing to forgive Brawley’s debt to him provideed tells the truth about the vicious hoax. But, the Post writes, she is defiantly unapologetic, having brusquely told reporters, “I don’t want to talk to anyone about that,” referring to her claims of brutality that sparked a national outrage.

As the Post reminds readers, celebrities lined up in support of Brawley, among them Bill Cosby, who posted a $25,000 reward for information on the case, fight promoter Don King, who promised $100,000 for Brawley’s education, and Spike Lee, who in his 1989 film, “Do the Right Thing,” included a shot of a graffiti message reading, “Tawana told the truth.”

But Tawana didn’t tell the truth, a court determined. And she is not the only culprit who refuses to own up to it now. Sharpton, who has also never apologized for his role in stoking racial tensions, claimed at the time that there are two sets of laws in the U.S. “The common law applies to whites,” he said. “The slave code still applies to blacks.”

Despite having been proved wrong time and again, he still does to this day.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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