The PJ Tatler

Blast from the Past: Tawana Brawley Finally Starts Paying for her Lies

The New York Post is reporting that after fleeing New York following the successful prosecution of a libel suit against her, notorious hoaxer Tawana Brawley was tracked down in Virginia and is now having her wages garnished to finally start paying what she owes the man she accused of taking part in her rape ordeal.


Twenty-five years after accusing an innocent man of rape, Tawana Brawley is finally paying for her lies.

Last week, 10 checks totaling $3,764.61 were delivered to ex-prosecutor Steven Pagones — the first payments Brawley has made since a court determined in 1998 that she defamed him with her vicious hoax.

A Virginia court this year ordered the money garnisheed from six months of Brawley’s wages as a nurse there.

She still owes Pagones $431,000 in damages. And she remains defiantly unapologetic.

“It’s a long time coming,” said Pagones, 52, who to this day is more interested in extracting a confession from Brawley than cash.

“Every week, she’ll think of me,” he told The Post. “And every week, she can think about how she has a way out — she can simply tell the truth.”

Brawley’s advisers in the infamous race-baiting case — the Rev. Al Sharpton, and attorneys C. Vernon Mason and Alton Maddox — have already paid, or are paying, their defamation debt. But Brawley, 41, had eluded punishment.

She’s now forced to pay Pagones $627 each month, possibly for the rest of her life. Under Virginia law, she can appeal the wage garnishment every six months.

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

Pagones filed for the garnishment with the circuit court in Surry County, Va., in January, a few weeks after The Post tracked down Brawley to tiny Hopewell, Va.

Before The Post came knocking, not even her own co-workers knew she was the teen behind the spectacular 1987 case.

“I don’t want to talk to anyone about that,” Brawley growled after a Post reporter confronted her about her sordid past in December.

Employing aliases including Tawana Thompson and Tawana Gutierrez, she leads a relatively normal life by all appearances, residing in a neat brick apartment complex and working as a licensed practical nurse at The Laurels of Bon Air in Richmond.

She’s also raising a daughter, a neighbor said.


Here’s a good retrospective of the case from the New York Times:

Al Sharpton has never apologized for his role in the hoax. And Brawley has remained defiant:

In a July 22 legal brief signed by Brawley and submitted by Maddox, Brawley contends she wouldn’t submit herself to the court’s jurisdiction because an appearance in the court, “which inferentially sympathizes with the Confederate States of America, would be contrary to the US Constitution and would amount to a ‘badge of slavery.’ ”

Brawley did not return messages seeking comment.

Brawley will likely be spending the rest of her life paying what she owes Pagones — unless she admits her guilt. The former prosecutor says he is willing to forgive the debt if she confesses.

But no amount of money can undo the damage done to race relations by Brawley, Sharpton and the others who stoked the fires of racial hatred until it actually became believable to many in the black community that the prosecutor was guilty of raping Tawana Brawley in a forest with four other men.

Judging by the Zimmerman trial and its aftermath, we haven’t made much progress since then.

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