Accountability For Tawana Brawley

Al Sharpton and Tawana, ruining lives. Nice hair, Al.

Al Sharpton and Tawana, ruining lives. Nice hair, Al.

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

Graphic: Bossip

17 thoughts on “Accountability For Tawana Brawley

  1. Both Brawley and Sharpton are beneath contempt. Because it is clear that Shaprton has no honor, the concept that he should be paying Brawley’s wage garnishment — since he’s made millions since he took up her “case” — is likely unfathomable to him. Yes, she was 15, made false accusations of others, but was prompted by Sharpton into turning it into a national issue, for ten years So he pays his fine, is scot free, and for some reason still has a national presence. He took her on, egged her on, for his own purposes.

    Even If she does come clean, Pagones should let her wages be garnished… forever if that what it takes. Brawley should go after Sharpton, the “mastermind” who made this into such an issue. She could have been “outed” a lot sooner if Sharpton had not been involved. She’s culpable, of course, but she was 15 and Sharpton was a powerful (to some) adult who was just grandstanding to enhance his own image. Lying — over and over and over again — to accuse the innocent and play the race card is not what we needed then and is not what we need now.

  2. I say good for him. There needs to justice for this woman’s behavior. I was 10 years old when this mess occurred. over the years I’ve read up on the events. This was pure racism. The fact that con men like Sharpten are given a level of respectability is bad enough. But to let Brawley off scot free is wrong. She needs to be punished for her actions.

  3. There’s something “just not right” about this whole story — including the bits about Pagones not having been able to find Ms. Brawley until now. For example, read this story published 11/18/07:

    It intrigues me that Brawley could certainly have benefited by “selling *her* story to the tabloids”, but has not. It intrigues me that a person who is the principal in a PI firm has not been able to find Brawley when news media has found her time and again. I am wondering why Brawley doesn’t just apologize if that’s all it’ll take to get rid of the judgment? She certainly does not appear to have used the situation to her benefit as Sharpton has.

    I don’t have the answers by any means — I do think there are enough questions in my mind to warrant a closer look and not necessarily “solve” the matter by saying “it’s about time this woman got her just deserts”.

    • Well, but what? What are you suggesting? Pagones has been remarkably decent about this, and has hardly been a Jaubert. There has never been any serious contention that Brawley wasn’t lying or that Pagones was anything but an innocent victim> She’s resolutely refused to talk, other than a couple of denials—Sharpton wished the whole story would go away. It was a benefit when it placed him in the public eye, and got him the loyalty of the race-baiters, but it’s a detriment at this point, to him and Brawley.

      Why won’t she just admit what she did (Pagones knows an apology would be worthless)? Because she’s an unwell, not very nice, dishonest, arrogant and hateful person would be my guess. Who else would do what she did as a teen, and not have the decency to come clean and BEG her victims for forgiveness?

      • I’m suggesting we shouldn’t judge Brawley’s ethics on the basis of “planted news stories”. I’m suggesting that these news stories were planted in an effort to “get” Al Sharpton (rightly, wrongly, or anywhere in between) and Brawley is simply a pawn now as she probably was 25 years ago. As such, I don’t think these latest “facts” provide a reasonable basis for making judgments about Brawley’s ethics or lack thereof. Sure, we could — but isn’t that what biased and shoddy “news reporting” asks us to do on a daily basis — and one of the things that is terribly wrong with our decision-making processes?

        Why do I think the stories are planted? It would be my initial assumption that Pagones didn’t go after Brawley earlier because she clearly had no money (There are many, many civil damage awards/judgments that are never collected because the persons have no resources with which to pay them) . So why now? She didn’t win the lottery or come into an inheritance or get some high profile/high paying job. She wasn’t really hiding (there have been articles about her since the judgment and she has appeared in public at events over the years) — Pagones as principal of a PI firm should have been able to find her or else the firm is in big trouble. Perhaps with Sharpton’s public profile Pagones is hoping Sharpton and his supporters will pay up to make the story go away? Perhaps this is simply an effort to smear (generally discredit) Sharpton (and/or others by association)?

        As far as Pagones’ statement that he’d accept an admission of guilt in lieu of collecting the judgment, Brawley would be an idiot not to have accepted such an offer — if it had actually been made — in writing. Since she’s already been judged as “guilty” in the court of public opinion, she would have nothing to lose and much to gain by doing so. Unless she actually had been abducted and mistreated by “someone” she couldn’t identify, perhaps not Pagones… or she is absolutely delusional and incapable of discerning reality (although she has been working as an LPN for a number of years and described as a good worker…). It’s not completely outside the realm of possibility that she was attacked by her own step father (who had previously served 7 years in prison in the death of his first wife and whom Brawley was described as fearing) and made up the original story to protect herself while others (Sharpton and the legal team) fleshed out the story for their own benefit… Or…. Whatever the reasons, I agree — it makes absolutely no sense for Brawley not to have taken advantage of a legitimate offer from Pagones — yet another unanswered question which helps make these latest news stories all the more implausible.

        What’s the “real story” here? It appears that something is rotten in the state of Denmark (or at least the fish tank)…I think we’re being played for chumps, especially if we endeavor to assess the ethical position of Brawley based on a planted story with an agenda that appears to have nothing really to do with Brawley.

        • I’m sorry, Linda, this makes no sense at all, and reek of conspiracy theory delusion. She was found in the state reported. Her story did not hold up. It was extensively investigated. She lied. She did accuse men unconnected to the incident. Pagones was a prosecutor. He was exonerated, thoroughly and without question. His life and career were damaged. By her, and Sharpton. The case was thoroughly litigated and investigated again. Brawley’s guilt is unquestionable. What “planted stories”? By whom? For what purpose? What agenda? The judgments about a woman who falsely accuses men of a heinous crime, refuses to admit it, and remains defiant for 25 years are hardly unfair or premature.

          • I did not say Brawley is not culpable for what occurred 25 years ago. I did not say she did not legally owe Pagones the damages awarded to him. I agree that both are true.

            What I question is the accuracy and motivation for the news stories which brought up these questions up again — and that are now raised on your site. I question the reasonableness of analyzing Brawley’s actions based upon those recent articles which leave much to be desired in the way of accurate, fair, and reasonable reporting of facts. Why should we revisit Brawley’s ethics, or lack thereof, now based upon shoddy news “reporting”? It seems to me we’re responding to some inflammatory information that is not necessarily true.

            No, I am not a conspiracy theorist. In fact, I am very well acquainted with the inside workings of national, state and local politics from over 35 years of personal experience in several states and on the national stage — including the inside workings of political parties, political campaigns, state and federal government administrations, and the actions of outside money groups. I’ve worked for more than 8 years as a manager for a national nonprofit political research institute and have researched and published reports on Independent Expenditures in political campaigns and lobbying activities in the 50 states. I served on the staff of 3 different governors and one US Congressman. I was married for 20 years to a high-level political operative and campaign manager for statewide and national candidates who also served on the cabinets of 2 governors and the staff of a US Senator. I am personally acquainted with many of the “big name” political “operatives” that are active today. I do know of what I speak. And I’ve personally seen this type of thing happen literally hundreds of times.

            Large resources are typically dedicated to “opposition research” in every “successful” political organization and “news stories” are routinely planted/rumors circulated to reduce the credibility of opponents. Back in the days when there were more serious news organizations and actual money in the budget for investigative journalism, stories such as these at least would have been run through a bit more of a “think check” before seeing the light of day. Now they are simply reprinted pretty much verbatim (whether it comes from a political consulting house, media firm representing big pharmacy, wherever…) This lack of serious journalism makes it a field day for mud slinging amongst political adversaries.

            To sum it up, I think there are plenty of red flags to point toward this being an effort to “get Sharpton” and, as such, does not provide a useful basis upon which to revisit and update our opinion of the ethics of Brawley’s role. But, if you wish to do so, perhaps we should also identify and investigate all the parties involved.

            • It sure seems to me that you’re reading a lot into the story, as well as my post. Getting garnishment orders can take a long time. If you agree that Brawley did what she did, and that she owes Pagones, and that the amount isn’t out of line with her mistreatment of him, then what’s the issue? How does any of this relate to Sharpton at this point, other than the fact that Sharpton has a show on a supposed new channel is an utter disgrace? I don’t care to litigate the Brawley case again. I am stunned that she still hasn’t confessed what she did to her victim, but that aside, this isn’t even really news.

            • Your experience does nothing to declaim the possibility that you are a conspiracy theorist.

              What it does suggest is that since you are not trustworthy in your analysis of what occurred. By your own admission, you have direct knowledge of planted stories intended to smear opponents. Why haven’t you spoken out about this behavior before? Moreover, assuming you were successful at your careers, you indict yourself as being involved in this bad behavior.

              It looks to me like you have been involved with bad behavior involving political figures and stories so that you now assume that negative stories about political figures must be the result of bad behavior.

            • Linda, it’s about Brawley being forced to PAY UP for her lies. Yeah, she grew up with a couple of grifter, con-artist parents. The apple doesn’t fall far from the trees.

              As far as Sharpton goes….GOOD. He should be targeted. He’s a race-baiting neanderthal who smeared innocent people. The fact that the Democratic Party and the liberal media suck up to that race-baiting piece of filth is disgusting. Sharpton is a black-skinned stormtrooper who long ago should have been discarded, like Maddox and Mason.

              He knowingly defamed Pagones and made up lies. He accused everyone of being in on the conspiracy: the Democratic AG, the Democratic Governor, the hospitals, the Mafia, the IRA, the media, everybody. It’s time this POS faced the music. Politicians who stand downwind from that beast need to have their alliance with Sharpton made part of their election campaigns.

  4. I agree with you that it “isn’t even really news”. That is the reason I questioned what is to be gained by reviving the issue at this point due to what I consider a couple of dubious “new stories”. That’s all. I do apologize for carrying on about this motivated principally by my disgust with the current state of “journalism”.

  5. Pingback: Tawana Brawley Hoax Anniversary Prompts Re-Look At Flashpoint Case

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