Almost 30 years after the Tawana Brawley (pictured center) case divided N.Y.C. along tense racial lines, a court has ordered Brawley to pay up in a defamation lawsuit one of her accusers filed against her more than 10 years ago, according to the New York Post.
Virginia’s Surry County Court filed wage-garnishment papers against Brawley, who is now living as a licensed nurse at a nursing home in Richmond as Tawana Vacenia Thompson Gutierrez, on Wednesday.
According to the papers, she now owes $431,492 in defamation wages to former Dutchess County Prosecutor Steven Pagones, even though she originally owed a fraction of the cost at $190,000 before a 9 percent interest of nonpayment was tacked on).
“For at least 25 years, she has been living a major lie…. To me, this has always been about responsibility and accountability,” Pagones told the Post, who tracked Brawley down in December.
Back when she was 15, Brawley accused six White men of raping her. She was later found in a feces-covered trash bag in Wappingers Falls, with the words “n*gger” and “b*tch” written upside down on her body. The words “KKK” were also carved in to her shoe.
Pagones suddenly became one of the accused rapists, after he tried to help close friend Harry Crist Jr., who, as a Fishkill officer, committed suicide a week after having been accused in the rape. At the time, Pagones offered a reason as to why Crist — who had just reportedly suffered a breakup and didn’t pass the N.Y. State Police exam — killed himself. Instead, Rev. Al Sharpton and Brawley argued that Crist committed suicide because he was guilty — and then Pagones was accused of raping Brawley more than two dozen times.
One tumultuous year later, the state found Pagones and the remaining suspects not guilty of rape, arguing that Brawley likely made up the story to escape punishment for staying out late. However, Pagones lost his job and marriage as a result of the proceedings.
In 1997, Pagones won a defamation lawsuit against Shaprton, Brawley, and her lawyers. Sharpton was forced to pay up $66,000; however, Brawley is yet to pay anything.
Watch Rev. Sharpton discuss the case here:
Now, Pagones says that the money is his way of holding her responsible for the damage she caused.
“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,” Pagones said. He also said that he would drop the suit if she simply “fesses up” to fabricating the whole story.
“I look at this as another opportunity for her to tell the truth.”
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