Skip to main content

Tawana Brawley starts paying man she falsely accused of rape in 1987

By Sho Wills, CNN
updated 8:51 AM EDT, Mon August 5, 2013
Tawana Brawley holds hands with Al Sharpton, left, in 1990.
Tawana Brawley holds hands with Al Sharpton, left, in 1990.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tawana Brawley claimed that Steven Pagones and others raped her in 1987
  • Brawley, who is black, said the white men wrote racial slurs on her body
  • Al Sharpton took up her cause, which a grand jury later found to be false
  • Brawley started paying Pagones monies owed from a defamation lawsuit

(CNN) -- After 26 years, Tawana Brawley has finally begun paying damages to Steven Pagones, a man she falsely accused of being among a group of men who raped her in 1987.

Brawley's payment comes in the form of nearly $3,800 in wage garnishments, Pagones told CNN Sunday. Brawley still owes Pagones more than $400,000 in defamation damages.

In fall 1987, Brawley, who is African-American, was found disheveled inside a trash bag with racial slurs written across her body in Wappingers Falls, New York. Brawley, then 15, claimed she was kidnapped and repeatedly raped by a group of white men.

In one of his first mainstream cases, activist Al Sharpton became Brawley's spokesman, staging rallies and calling for justice on her behalf.

Sharpton fights different 'wars'

When the case was brought before a grand jury, it concluded that Brawley had falsified the entire account.

Pagones, who was an assistant district attorney, filed a civil suit that named Brawley, Sharpton and Brawley's lawyers as defendants.

Sharpton has since paid his debt to Pagones. But Brawley, now 41 and a nurse living in Virginia, still owes Pagones more than $431,000.

Pagones says he will forgive the debt if Brawley issues a personal apology and finally clears his name of all wrongdoing.

"Just tell the truth. That's all I'm looking for here. I have been battling this since day one, and it's really all about telling the truth," Pagones said.

Calls to Brawley were not returned.

CNN's Julia Lull contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT