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The back-story

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Quote:
25 years after her rape claims sparked a firestorm, Tawana Brawley avoids the spotlight

Her silence is deafening.

Twenty-five years after the spotlight first glared on Tawana Brawley — a black woman who as a teen claimed she was raped by a gang of white men, smeared with feces and stuffed in a garbage bag — she’s desperately struggling to stay hidden from public view.

“I don’t want to talk to anyone about that,” Brawley, 40, said recently after The Post found her in Hopewell, Va., where she lives in a neatly kept brick apartment complex with signs warning of video surveillance cameras.

By all appearances, her life — so chaotic a quarter-century ago — now seems normal.

Brawley, using aliases such as Thompson and Gutierrez, now has a young daughter, a neighbor says, and works as a licensed practical nurse at The Laurels of Bon Air in Richmond, where co-workers were clueless about her past.

“Are you serious? We don’t know her by that name. Isn’t that a trip?” squealed one staffer, who called Brawley, known to staff as Tawana Gutierrez, “a good worker.”

On a recent Friday, Brawley, noticeably heavier and dressed in pink scrubs, emerged from her apartment at about 6:30 a.m. with a small child and a man wearing red hospital scrubs.

The two left in separate cars — Brawley in a Chrysler Sebring and the man and child in a Ford Taurus.

She arrived at work in Richmond about 30 minutes later, and the man pulled in minutes afterward.

Hopewell — where Brawley has lived for at least a year, according to a neighbor — has the highest rate of violent crime per capita of any city or town in Virginia, local cops say. Plagued by drugs and guns, it had five murders in the last three weeks. Jittery residents call police at even the slightest suspicion.

“You break wind here and they call us,” one veteran officer said.

State records show “Tawana V. Gutierrez” and “Tawana V. Thompson” have held the same nursing license since 2006. The Virginia Board of Nursing confirmed issuing it to a “Tawana Vacenia Thompson Gutierrez.”

Brawley maintains a PO box in Claremont, Va., under the name Gutierrez, according to sources.

That town is a 45-minute drive from Hopewell and is the residence of her stepdad, Ralph King, who spent seven years in prison in the 1970s for killing his first wife.

Locals in the rural mill town described King, who lives in a ramshackle house near the end of a dead-end street where dogs run wild, as a nasty man and said they hadn’t seen Tawana in years.

“He’s real mean,” one man said.

King declined to be interviewed.

A quarter-century ago, Brawley, then just 15, told a story incredible for its sheer brutality.

After she went missing for four days from her home in Wappingers Falls, Dutchess County, Brawley was found in a trash bag on Nov. 28, 1987, dazed, covered in feces and with the words “n----r” and “b---h” scrawled in charcoal on her body and “KKK” carved into her shoe.

Initially, Brawley said little, simply nodding or writing notes when investigators questioned her and revealing that she had been abducted by two white men in a dark car who drove her to the woods, where four other white men were waiting.

Details were in short supply. Tawana couldn’t offer names or even a description of the attackers who ravaged her for four days.

She said her memory went blank from the time she was attacked until she was discovered. Though she did recall that one of her attackers had blond hair, a holster — and a badge.

The shocking allegations polarized New York City — already a powder keg of racial tension a year after a white mob attacked three black teens in Howard Beach, Queens, killing one.

The case attracted attorneys Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason, and the then-little-known Rev. Al Sharpton, who used it to catapult to the national stage.

Less than a week after Brawley was discovered, Fishkill Police Officer Harry Crist Jr., 28, was found dead in his apartment.

Soon, Brawley’s advisers would name Crist as a suspect in the rape. And when Dutchess County prosecutor Steven Pagones offered an alibi for Crist, Pagones suddenly found himself also accused.

Sharpton and Brawley’s lawyers claimed — without proof — that Pagones kidnapped, abused and raped Brawley on 33 occasions.

They also fingered state trooper Scott Patterson, a friend of Crist and Pagones, who found Crist’s body.

Brawley became a cause célèbre. Bill Cosby posted a $25,000 reward for information on the case; Don King promised $100,000 for Brawley’s education; and boxer Mike Tyson gave her a $30,000 watch to ease her pain.

But a grand jury found in 1988 that Brawley was never raped and the whole incredible case was all a hoax.

The panel, which heard from 180 witnesses over its seven-month investigation, found evidence that Brawley ran away from home and was hiding out in the vacant apartment from which her parents were just evicted and that she spun her yarn to avoid being punished for staying out late and missing school.

Many believe Brawley feared her stepdad King’s wrath and needed an alibi for her absence.

The hateful words scrawled on Brawley’s body were upside down — likely written by Brawley herself, and traces of the charcoal-like material were found under her fingernails, the grand jury found.

Brawley showed no signs of genital trauma or exposure. No semen was found. The feces on her body was traced to her neighbor’s dog. One witness said Brawley was seen climbing into the garbage bag.

The grand jury found that Crist committed suicide because he was upset after breaking up with his girlfriend and over his failure to pass a state police exam. His death, the panel found, “had no connection with any incident involving Tawana Brawley.”

“It is probable that in the history of this state, never has a teenager turned the prosecutorial and judicial systems literally upside down with such false claims,” state Supreme Court Justice S. Barrett Hickman wrote at the time.

These days, Pagones, still a lawyer but now a principal at a New York-based private-investigation firm, is trying to forget the name Tawana Brawley. But he can’t.

“It’ll come up randomly. It’ll come up when something happens with Sharpton,” he told The Post.

In 1998, Pagones won a defamation lawsuit against Sharpton, Brawley and her lawyers. Maddox was found liable for $97,000, Mason for $188,000, and Sharpton was ordered to pony up $66,000, money that was paid by celebrity lawyer Johnnie Cochran and other benefactors.

Brawley was ordered to fork over $190,000 at 9 percent annual interest. None of that has been paid, which brings her total bill to $429,000.

Pagones, who served as Dutchess County assistant district attorney until 1990, continues to search for her.

“Through her silence, she’s as guilty of libel as Maddox, Mason and Sharpton,” he said. “The only way to hold her accountable — at least at this stage — is financially.”

Pagones contends that after all these years, Brawley still should publicly state he did not rape her.

“I absolutely think she was manipulated by Mason, Maddox and Sharpton,” he said. “But even if at the time she was being victimized by them, 25 years have gone by. At any time she could have told someone, ‘I want to tell the truth.’ To me, she’s no longer a victim.”

The case haunts him but no longer dominates his life as it once did.

“I had to sit down with my daughters and explain to them that this was a case where someone made reckless allegations,” he said. “It didn’t ruin me, but it certainly had a huge impact on every aspect of my life.

“It’s not about the money, but the money is the only way I can hold her accountable.”

Pagones blames Sharpton more than anyone else for his troubles.

“I don’t ever expect him to say he’s sorry, but he should at least come clean and admit that, after the trial, that now he knows Steven Pagones had nothing to do with Tawana Brawley,” Pagones said.

Pagones is correct: To this day, Sharpton remains unapologetic.

“Does Donald Trump owe the Central Park Five an apology? He advocated in the Central Park case what he believed, I advocated what I believe,” he told The Post, referring to Trump’s full-page ads demanding the death penalty for five teens accused — and eventually exonerated — of raping a jogger in Central Park.

Pagones remains undaunted.

“We’ll get her. It’s just a question of time.”



Ordered to pay damages to victim of hoax


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Quote:
Tawana Brawley served with court order to pay man she accused of rape in 1987
Rape-hoax $lap


Infamous hoaxster Tawana Brawley — whose outrageous rape lie 25 years ago inflamed racial tensions nationwide — yesterday was finally slapped with a court order to settle a hefty defamation case against her.

“For at least 25 years, she has been living a major lie,” said former Dutchess County prosecutor Steven Pagones, who was falsely accused of raping Brawley in 1987 and finally tracked her down, thanks to The Post.

“To me, this has always been about responsibility and accountability,’’ added the former ADA, who won the $190,000 defamation lawsuit against Brawley, 40, now a nurse in Virginia, more than a decade ago.

At 9 percent interest, that debt, which Brawley never attempted to pay off, now totals $431,492, according to the wage-garnishment papers filed in Virginia’s Surry County Court.

Brawley — whose unbelievable lies made the Rev. Al Sharpton a household name as he bombastically championed her cause — had changed her name and moved down South in the years since she was exposed.

Her fugitive-like antics long thwarted Pagones’ efforts to serve her with the court papers needed to get the financial damages due him.

But The Post finally found Brawley last month, effectively leading Pagones and his lawyer to her.

She was living under the assumed name of Tawana Vacenia Thompson Gutierrez in Hopewell, Va., and working as a licensed nurse at The Laurels of Bon Air, a nursing home in nearby Richmond.

According to Pagones’ lawyer, Garry Bolnick, the single mom’s wages could be docked 10 to 25 percent per paycheck as retribution for her lies.

Pagones said he might waive his entitled windfall — if Brawley finally ’fesses up.

“There is a feeling of unfinished business to it,” he said of the case that ended his career and cost him his marriage. “I look at this as another opportunity for her to tell the truth.

“People criticize me for going after a hardworking single mother trying to support herself and child. My argument has been she has not been held accountable.

“If she is not going to tell the truth, then it is about the money. That is the only way to hold her accountable,” said Pagones, who is now principal owner of a private investigations firm.

But Pagones said he wonders if Sharpton will again try to rush to her aid and bail her out.

“I’ve got to believe since he is primarily responsible for all the damage done, I would think he would come to her aid. That’s what I expect,” Pagones said.

Seemingly a lifetime ago, a 15-year-old Brawley of Wappingers Falls in Dutchess County was found in a trash bag covered in feces with the words “n- - - -r” and “b***h” scrawled upside down on her body and “KKK” carved into her shoe.

Sharpton, still relatively unknown outside New York City, and lawyers Alton Maddox and C. Vernon Mason, immediately took up her cause as she claimed she was attacked by a gang of white men, including Pagones.

When 28-year-old Fishkill Police Officer Harry Crist Jr., committed suicide a week later — likely over a romantic breakup and failing the New York State Police exam — Sharpton and his allies used the incident to accuse Crist of participating in the rape.

When Pagones, a friend of Crist, offered an alibi for his besmirched dead friend, he found himself accused of raping Brawley nearly three dozen times.

After a year of hell, a grand jury found Brawley’s accusations without any merit. She likely fabricated the story because she feared her stepfather’s wrath for staying out late, according to the grand-jury evidence.

“This has been on my mind every time Sharpton has been in the news,” Pagones said of the case.

“I am reminded of the damage Tawana Brawley, Sharpton, Mason and Maddox caused. It’s something I live with all the time.”

In 1997, Pagones won a defamation lawsuit against Sharpton, Brawley and her lawyers.

Maddox was found liable for $97,000, Mason for $188,000, and Sharpton was ordered to pony up $66,000, money that was coughed up by O.J. Simpson lawyer Johnnie Cochran and others.
Good for him. He needs to make her accountable. Sharpton is a lying sack of s**t that has many fools footing his bills.
Quote:
People criticize me for going after a hardworking single mother trying to support herself and child. My argument has been she has not been held accountable
Excuse my language, but ******** them then.

He was accused of raping a teen over several dozen times, it ruined his reputation(and the others who were falsely accused), and apparently his marriage and people have the gal to criticize him for seeking the accuser to be held accountable for her actions? She seems to have no remorse since she she skipped town. He wants her to fess up, if she does so all that money she would be forced to pay would disappear.
Wow... that seems like an incredibly small amount to pay for such huge a** allegations, with such large effects. I mean, half a million is a fair bit, but considering it was less than $100,000 at the time she was told to pay it...
kakteed's avatar

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Quote:
People criticize me for going after a hardworking single mother trying to support herself and child. My argument has been she has not been held accountable
Excuse my language, but ******** them then.

He was accused of raping a teen over several dozen times, it ruined his reputation(and the others who were falsely accused), and apparently his marriage and people have the gal to criticize him for seeking the accuser to be held accountable for her actions? She seems to have no remorse since she she skipped town. He wants her to fess up, if she does so all that money she would be forced to pay would disappear.


Her skipping town doesn't mean she doesn't feel remorse, by the way.
kakteed
Sleep Isabella
Quote:
People criticize me for going after a hardworking single mother trying to support herself and child. My argument has been she has not been held accountable
Excuse my language, but ******** them then.

He was accused of raping a teen over several dozen times, it ruined his reputation(and the others who were falsely accused), and apparently his marriage and people have the gal to criticize him for seeking the accuser to be held accountable for her actions? She seems to have no remorse since she she skipped town. He wants her to fess up, if she does so all that money she would be forced to pay would disappear.


Her skipping town doesn't mean she doesn't feel remorse, by the way.
True. I was ticked from reading the article, so I just quickly typed my initial thoughts.
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kakteed
Sleep Isabella
Quote:
People criticize me for going after a hardworking single mother trying to support herself and child. My argument has been she has not been held accountable
Excuse my language, but ******** them then.

He was accused of raping a teen over several dozen times, it ruined his reputation(and the others who were falsely accused), and apparently his marriage and people have the gal to criticize him for seeking the accuser to be held accountable for her actions? She seems to have no remorse since she she skipped town. He wants her to fess up, if she does so all that money she would be forced to pay would disappear.


Her skipping town doesn't mean she doesn't feel remorse, by the way.


skipping town and adopting an alias, though, shows that whatever remorse she had wasn't sufficient to make her feel she aught pay what she owed, or to even apologise.
kakteed
Sleep Isabella
Quote:
People criticize me for going after a hardworking single mother trying to support herself and child. My argument has been she has not been held accountable
Excuse my language, but ******** them then.

He was accused of raping a teen over several dozen times, it ruined his reputation(and the others who were falsely accused), and apparently his marriage and people have the gal to criticize him for seeking the accuser to be held accountable for her actions? She seems to have no remorse since she she skipped town. He wants her to fess up, if she does so all that money she would be forced to pay would disappear.


Her skipping town doesn't mean she doesn't feel remorse, by the way.


Failing to come clean does. If she refuses to apologize and finally publicly acknowledge that she lied through her teeth, then I have no issue with him garnishing her wages and taking every cent he can get.
kakteed's avatar

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Keltoi Samurai
kakteed
Sleep Isabella
Quote:
People criticize me for going after a hardworking single mother trying to support herself and child. My argument has been she has not been held accountable
Excuse my language, but ******** them then.

He was accused of raping a teen over several dozen times, it ruined his reputation(and the others who were falsely accused), and apparently his marriage and people have the gal to criticize him for seeking the accuser to be held accountable for her actions? She seems to have no remorse since she she skipped town. He wants her to fess up, if she does so all that money she would be forced to pay would disappear.


Her skipping town doesn't mean she doesn't feel remorse, by the way.


skipping town and adopting an alias, though, shows that whatever remorse she had wasn't sufficient to make her feel she aught pay what she owed, or to even apologise.


Oh I know that. I tipped Isabella's post before I responded. Just pointing out that one doesn't mean the other.
kakteed's avatar

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kakteed
Sleep Isabella
Quote:
People criticize me for going after a hardworking single mother trying to support herself and child. My argument has been she has not been held accountable
Excuse my language, but ******** them then.

He was accused of raping a teen over several dozen times, it ruined his reputation(and the others who were falsely accused), and apparently his marriage and people have the gal to criticize him for seeking the accuser to be held accountable for her actions? She seems to have no remorse since she she skipped town. He wants her to fess up, if she does so all that money she would be forced to pay would disappear.


Her skipping town doesn't mean she doesn't feel remorse, by the way.


Failing to come clean does. If she refuses to apologize and finally publicly acknowledge that she lied through her teeth, then I have no issue with him garnishing her wages and taking every cent he can get.


Also no. Feeling remorse and feeling the required amount of responsibility aren't equatable. And neither do I. I'm just pointing out that one doesn't mean the other.
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the thing that sticks me about all this is, no matter how much I agree what she did was wrong, no matter how much I believe justice would be served as best as is possible if she was forced to pay for what she did, I can't help but wonder: if she'd been a white woman, would there even have been an attempt to bring her to justice, or would it have been waved off, and handled with the assumption that if she was brought to justice, it might scare off real rape victims from reporting their own rapists? now, we sit back and wait for the inevitable s**t-storm for me having used the phrase "real rape victims"
Keltoi Samurai
the thing that sticks me about all this is, no matter how much I agree what she did was wrong, no matter how much I believe justice would be served as best as is possible if she was forced to pay for what she did, I can't help but wonder: if she'd been a white woman, would there even have been an attempt to bring her to justice, or would it have been waved off, and handled with the assumption that if she was brought to justice, it might scare off real rape victims from reporting their own rapists? now, we sit back and wait for the inevitable s**t-storm for me having used the phrase "real rape victims"


Key word in your comment? REAL. This isn't a real rape victim. This is a woman that lied and ruined three lives, all because she didn't want to be punished.
It has nothing to do with punishing a rape victim. If anything, it makes it clear that filing a fraudulent claim (which, by the way, they SHOULD have charged her with) is a crime, and there's a huge difference between someone being found innocent and someone lying and making false accusations.
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the thing that sticks me about all this is, no matter how much I agree what she did was wrong, no matter how much I believe justice would be served as best as is possible if she was forced to pay for what she did, I can't help but wonder: if she'd been a white woman, would there even have been an attempt to bring her to justice, or would it have been waved off, and handled with the assumption that if she was brought to justice, it might scare off real rape victims from reporting their own rapists? now, we sit back and wait for the inevitable s**t-storm for me having used the phrase "real rape victims"


Key word in your comment? REAL. This isn't a real rape victim. This is a woman that lied and ruined three lives, all because she didn't want to be punished.
It has nothing to do with punishing a rape victim. If anything, it makes it clear that filing a fraudulent claim (which, by the way, they SHOULD have charged her with) is a crime, and there's a huge difference between someone being found innocent and someone lying and making false accusations.


dude, I'm agreeing with you. this most certainly was the right course of action, and should have included false filing charges.

I'm just wondering if a white woman would have been brought to justice like this, or if justice was only able to be served here because she was black, and people as a whole are more willing to accept judgement against minorities.

also, I just saw an episode of American Dad from back in 2006 ( "Rough Trade," if you're curious ) where Stan freaking mutilates a woman that they identify through dialogue as "Senator Feinstein" ( also relevant: Bullock calls her "a Handsome woman from California," which, as we learned from Bullock's voice actor, Patrick Stewart, in his role as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek the Next Generation season 6, episode 15 "Tapestry," is just "something you say to old ladies" ) within the first 5 minutes, and I'm wondering if such a thing would count as a crime now that she's in the news, trying to legislate the Second Amendment.
Keltoi Samurai
Old Blue Collar Joe
Keltoi Samurai
the thing that sticks me about all this is, no matter how much I agree what she did was wrong, no matter how much I believe justice would be served as best as is possible if she was forced to pay for what she did, I can't help but wonder: if she'd been a white woman, would there even have been an attempt to bring her to justice, or would it have been waved off, and handled with the assumption that if she was brought to justice, it might scare off real rape victims from reporting their own rapists? now, we sit back and wait for the inevitable s**t-storm for me having used the phrase "real rape victims"


Key word in your comment? REAL. This isn't a real rape victim. This is a woman that lied and ruined three lives, all because she didn't want to be punished.
It has nothing to do with punishing a rape victim. If anything, it makes it clear that filing a fraudulent claim (which, by the way, they SHOULD have charged her with) is a crime, and there's a huge difference between someone being found innocent and someone lying and making false accusations.


dude, I'm agreeing with you. this most certainly was the right course of action, and should have included false filing charges.

I'm just wondering if a white woman would have been brought to justice like this, or if justice was only able to be served here because she was black, and people as a whole are more willing to accept judgement against minorities.

also, I just saw an episode of Family Guy from back in 2006 ( "Rough Trade," if you're curious ) where Stan freaking mutilates a woman that they identify through dialogue as "Senator Feinstein" ( also relevant: Bullock calls her "a Handsome woman from California," which, as we learned from Bullock's voice actor, Patrick Stewart, in his role as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek the Next Generation season 6, episode 15 "Tapestry," is just "something you say to old ladies" ) within the first 5 minutes, and I'm wondering if such a thing would count as a crime now that she's in the news, trying to legislate the Second Amendment.


I'm wondering if the only reason they didn't pursue criminal charges is because she is a minority and they didn't want to cause a stink.
And Feinstein looks like four pounds of pounded s**t in a used condom. I don't care for Family Guy.
Keltoi Samurai's avatar

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Old Blue Collar Joe
Keltoi Samurai
Old Blue Collar Joe
Keltoi Samurai
the thing that sticks me about all this is, no matter how much I agree what she did was wrong, no matter how much I believe justice would be served as best as is possible if she was forced to pay for what she did, I can't help but wonder: if she'd been a white woman, would there even have been an attempt to bring her to justice, or would it have been waved off, and handled with the assumption that if she was brought to justice, it might scare off real rape victims from reporting their own rapists? now, we sit back and wait for the inevitable s**t-storm for me having used the phrase "real rape victims"


Key word in your comment? REAL. This isn't a real rape victim. This is a woman that lied and ruined three lives, all because she didn't want to be punished.
It has nothing to do with punishing a rape victim. If anything, it makes it clear that filing a fraudulent claim (which, by the way, they SHOULD have charged her with) is a crime, and there's a huge difference between someone being found innocent and someone lying and making false accusations.


dude, I'm agreeing with you. this most certainly was the right course of action, and should have included false filing charges.

I'm just wondering if a white woman would have been brought to justice like this, or if justice was only able to be served here because she was black, and people as a whole are more willing to accept judgement against minorities.

also, I just saw an episode of Family Guy from back in 2006 ( "Rough Trade," if you're curious ) where Stan freaking mutilates a woman that they identify through dialogue as "Senator Feinstein" ( also relevant: Bullock calls her "a Handsome woman from California," which, as we learned from Bullock's voice actor, Patrick Stewart, in his role as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek the Next Generation season 6, episode 15 "Tapestry," is just "something you say to old ladies" ) within the first 5 minutes, and I'm wondering if such a thing would count as a crime now that she's in the news, trying to legislate the Second Amendment.


I'm wondering if the only reason they didn't pursue criminal charges is because she is a minority and they didn't want to cause a stink.
And Feinstein looks like four pounds of pounded s**t in a used condom. I don't care for Family Guy.


I did say "Family Guy," didn't I?

I meant "American Dad"

and "Handsome" is the word you use for four pounds of pounded s**t in a used condom when it's also elderly, and a senator, and it's the senator you're appealing to for funding for your new piece of military superhardware.

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