Tawana Brawley was 15 when she was championed by the Rev. Al Sharpton after she falsely claimed that she had been kidnapped, raped, and smeared with fecal matter by a group of white men. Now Brawley, 40, going by the name of Tawana Gutierrez, and employed at a Richmond nursing home, has received a wage-garnishment order to collect the $431,492 judgment against her in a 1997 defamation case brought by one of those men, Steven Pagones, who at the time of her 1987 accusation was a state prosecutor in New York.
Sharpton, who also was hit with a large damages verdict in the case, has already paid up. His outrageous race-baiting at the time was worth it to him, since it set set the race huckster on the road to celebrity that culminated in his being anointed as a respectable MSNBC host and commentator. Respectable for MSNBC, that is. Brawley still has public support, as the tender-hearted raise all sorts of arguments why she shouldn’t have to pay Pagones such a large amount. She is poor, they say. He should forgive her. She was only 15. She was disturbed. Now she is a single working mother, and we are really punishing her child. It was all Sharpton’s fault. And so on.
False accusations of heinous crimes, especially when made by individuals likely to attract sympathy, are among the most dastardly acts of dishonesty a citizen can engage in. They ruin lives. In Brawley’s case, her false accusations brought racial tensions in New York to the boiling point. She was old enough to understand the import of her actions, and still did them for a selfish reason: she didn’t want to be punished by her parents for being out all night, so rather than accept responsibility for her own actions, she falsely labeled Pagones and other innocent men as racists and rapists. Some conduct is so terrible that having to pay for it the rest of one’s life is a fair outcome, and this is an excellent example, especially since Brawley was still denying that she lied about the rape ten years later, during the defamation trials. She has never apologized or acknowledged what she did ( neither has Sharpton, who is beneath contempt.)
Pagones recently told the press that he might waive the judgment if Brawley were to finally admit that she falsely accused him; he’s not even insisting on an apology. “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.”
Facts: ABA Journal
Source: New York Times