Tawana Brawley hoax: Why she's paying $627 a month

Tawana Brawley hoax: At age 15, Tawana Brawley claimed she was raped by six white men. A grand jury ruled her claims a hoax. Today, Tawana Brawley is paying one of those men $627 a month in a defamation case.

(AP Photo/Mark Elias, File)
Tawana Brawley speaks to reporters with her advisor the Rev. Al Sharpton in Chicago in 1988. A grand jury concluded Brawley's story of being raped in New York in 1987 was a hoax. Today, she's making defamation payments.

 A black woman who set off a racial firestorm as a teenager after alleging she was raped by a group of white men in 1987 has begun making defamation payments to one of them.

Tawana Brawley has paid just over $3,700 to former county prosecutor Steven Pagones, the New York Post reported. Pagones won a claim against her and her advisers, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, after he was named as an attacker.

Brawley, then 15 and living in Wappingers Falls, claimed she had been sexually assaulted by white men who who smeared her with feces and scrawled racial epithets on her body.

The case quickly made headlines and drew the attention of Sharpton, who became an outspoken advocate for the teen.

As The Christian Science Monitor reported: "A grand jury in suburban Dutchess County spent seven months investigating the claims. Glenda Brawley, Tawana’s mother, defied a subpoena and refused to appear to testify. Tawana did not appear either. In October 1988, the grand jury concluded that Tawana was not abducted, raped, or sodomized, noting that her sexual assault kit showed no evidence of such an attack and that physicians found no signs that she’d been outside in the woods for a prolonged time. The grand jury surmised that the teenager might have faked the attack to avoid punishment from her mother and stepfather for being absentee for several days. No charges were brought in the case."

Pagones sued Brawley for defamation and won a $185,000 judgment. She now owes him more than $400,000 with interest. She's currently paying Pagones $627 each month.

“Finally, she’s paying something,” said Pagones’ attorney, Gary Bolnick told the Post. “Symbolically, I think it’s very important — you can’t just do this stuff without consequences.”

Brawley lives in Virginia and works as a nurse. The Post reported her location in December, and Pagones then filed papers to have her wages garnished for the payments owed him.

Her parents have insisted Brawley's claim of being raped was true.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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