Tawana Brawley Finally Paying Restitution 25 Years After False Sexual Assault Allegations

August 5, 2013  |  

A screenshot from the New York Times’ Retro Report on the Tawana Brawley case. via YouTube

Tawana Bradley, 40, who falsely accused Steven Pagones of raping her in 1987, has finally started making payments to Pagones; he won a defamation case against her in October 1998 and is still owed $431,492 in restitution, reports USA Today.

Brawley was 15-years-old when she was found unconscious and wrapped in a garbage bag. Her clothes were ripped and burned—the words “n***er” and “K.K.K.” were written on her torso. She pointed to three white men as her assailants, one of them Pagones, but forensic evidence shows there was no evidence of assault found in the tests. The crime received massive media attention and deepened racial tensions.

“They destroyed his ability to practice law,” Garry Bolnick, Pagones’ lawyer claimed. “This episode soured him on the whole legal profession and really prevented him in pursing his career.” Brawley was found guilty in a defamation case in 1998 and ordered to pay $190,000. With interest, the total has grown to $431,492. There’s always been doubt about whether he would ever be fully paid.

Brawley now works as a nurse in Laurels of Bon Air nursing home in Richmond, VA. A court in Virginia ordered Brawley’s employer to garnish up to 25 percent of her paycheck. So far, she’s paid a little over $3,700 to Pagones — for the first time since the 1998 case. Inconveniently, under Virginia law, Pagones must renew his request for Brawley’s wage garnishment every six months.

Bolnick has been tracking Brawley down to pay the restitution for years. She had been accused of leaving town, changing her Social Security number and using an alias multiple times. “[I]t was a combined effort of his law firm, Pagones’ private investigation business and The New York Post that found her,” USA Today adds.

“It would be nice if she would pay off the entire judgment. Obviously, she’s going to make us work for that,” Bolnick said. Rev. Al Sharpton was largely involved in defending Brawley and was also ordered to pay restitution,, which has been taken care of. “The only way we will get the money is if some of her so-called supporters come up with it,” added Bolnick.

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