In 1987, Tawana Brawley of Wappingers Falls, New York, told police that she was raped and tortured by several white men, some of them officers as she noticed a holster and badge during the assault. They wrote “n****r” and “bitch” on her torso with feces, and she was found in a trash bag in burned clothes. In 1988, a jury concluded that her claims were all a part of an elaborate hoax, and in 1998, she was ordered to pay $190,000 for slander.
Now, in 2013, Tawana Brawley’s judgement of $190,000 to pay one of the men who was named as an attacker, former county prosecutor Steven Pagones, has ballooned with nine percent interest, to a whopping $431,492. According to the New York Post, she has avoided paying the sum until now.
Brawley’s supporters were civil rights activist, Al Sharpton, who was not as well known then, attorneys Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason, who hit the street and rallied the community which was answered with full support. Celebrities like Bill Cosby, offered a $25,000 reward for information on the case, and Don King, promised $100,000 for Brawley’s education. Also, supporters of all kinds helped to raise money for her legal fund.
Spike Lee even supported her further after the jury ruled her story as a hoax, by putting the graffiti image “Tawana told the truth” on a wall in his 1989 film, “Do the Right Thing”. Brawley is now residing in Richmond, Virginia, and is a nurse. Pagones has offered to drop the settlement against her if she only goes on record and states that she lied.
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