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.The case of then 16-year-old Tawana Brawley gave the faux Reverend Al Sharpton his start as a professional racist.
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 (Sharpton's was paid for him).
In November 1987 Brawley claimed that she had been repeatedly raped and sodomized for four days by six white kidnappers, at least one of whom was wearing a police badge. She also said her assailants had chopped off some of her hair, forced her to perform oral sex on them, urinated into her mouth, smeared her clothing with feces, and covered her chest with racial slurs before finally dropping her off in a wooded area.
As he would do so many times after that, Sharpton quickly assumed the role of special adviser to Miss Brawley along with closely with the girl’s attorneys, C. Vernon Mason (who later in his career was disbarred for professional misconduct) and Alton Maddox (who publicly expressed his hatred for white people).
Claiming their client was kidnapped by “certain elements that have constantly antagonized the black community, including the Ku Klux Klan and law-enforcement personnel,” Sharpton his comrades Mason and Maddox demanded that New York Governor Mario Cuomo appoint a special prosecutor to the case and publicly charged that “high-level” local law enforcement officials were involved in the crime.
Sharpton also demanded that New York Attorney General Robert Abrams be removed from the case because of an alleged “relationship” between Abrams and the Dutchess County sheriff who was, according to Sharpton, “a suspect in this case.” Sharpton said there was “absolutely no way” that his client would talk to Abrams. “That’s like asking someone who watched someone killed in the gas chamber to sit down with Mr. Hitler,” he said.
Then at a March 1988 news conference, Sharpton and his partners in crime blamed Dutchess County’s assistant district attorney Stephen Pagones for being one of Brawley's attackers. He also accused district attorney William Grady of trying to cover up Pagones’ involvement in the crime, and demanded that Governor Mario Cuomo arrest the two “suspects.” When asked for evidence of his claims Sharpton and his cabal insisted they would reveal the facts when the time was right.
In July a Sharpton aide named Perry McKinnon revealed that
“Sharpton acknowledged to me early on that ‘The [Brawley] story do sound like bull---t, but it don’t matter. We’re building a movement. This is the perfect issue. Because you’ve got whites on blacks. That’s an easy way to stir up all the deprived people, who would want to believe and who would believe—and all [you’ve] got to do is convince them—that all white people are bad. Then you’ve got a movement.” Explaining that Sharpton was methodically “building an atmosphere” for a race war, McKinnon continued: “Sharpton told me it don’t matter whether any whites did it or not. Something happened to her...even if Tawana done it to herself.”To prove his truthfulness, McKinnon submitted to a lie detector test administered on camera and passed all questions.
But that didn't stop others from offering Brawley support. Celebrities lined up to support Tawana, including Bill Cosby, who posted a $25,000 reward for information on the case; Don King, who promised $100,000 for Brawley’s education; and Spike Lee, who in his 1989 film, “Do the Right Thing,” included a shot of a graffiti message reading, “Tawana told the truth.”
In the autumn of 1988 a grand jury who heard from 180 witnesses over seven months, concluded ithat the entire story was a hoax.
They determined Brawley had run away from home and concocted the story — most likely to avoid punishment from her stepfather, Ralph King, who had spent seven years in prison in the 1970s for killing his first wife.
Sharpton, Brawley, Maddox and Mason continued with the claim that Brawley had been brutalized by a gang of whites. Sharpton even told Spin magazine that Stephen Pagones had privately confessed to the crime.
When Pagones sued Sharpton and his fellow hoaxers for defamation of character in 1997, the latter portrayed himself as a wrongly persecuted man of honor who, mysteriously, could “no longer recall” having made a number of his slanderous accusations against Pagones and other law-enforcement officials years earlier. When asked whether he had made even the slightest attempt to verify Brawley’s allegations about Pagones before going public with them, Sharpton self-righteously retorted, “I would not engage in sex talk with a 15-year-old girl.”
Pagones won a court judgment against Sharpton for $345,000, which someone paid for him. He won a judgement from Maddox, Mason and Brawley also, but until recently Brawley hadn't paid.
The Brawley Hoax and the constant stress and anxiety (exacerbated by numerous death threats from Sharpton’s followers) ruined Pagones' life and contributed heavily to the end of his marriage .
Tawana Brawley is 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.
Sharpton, the "Reverend" who does not believe in the 9th commandment (about bearing false witness) is considered a civil rights leader by the mainstream media as well as President Obama and has been rewarded for his actions with a prime time slot by MSNBC.