Editor’s Note: Your Black World is not responsible for making Tawana’s whereabouts public. This has been reported in numerous media outlets already.
Maybe you remember Tawana Brawley, maybe you don’t. If you don’t recall, Tawana’s case was the one that created both fame and infamy for the Rev. Al Sharpton. Way back in 1987, a 15-year old Tawana claimed that she’d been gang raped by a group of white men in New York City. She was found inside a trash bag, with her face smeared with feces and the word “n*ggger” on her body.
She said that she’d been taken to the woods by two white men who assaulted her over four days. She also said that one of the men had a badge of some sort.
Attorneys Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason got the fire started, and they eventually got Rev. Al Sharpton involved. At the time, Sharpton wasn’t very well known, even in his home town of New York City. Bill Cosby gave $25,000 as a reward for anyone who captured those responsible. Don King promised to give the girl $100,000 for her education and others supported Sharpton from around the country.
Fishkill Police Officer Harry Crist Jr. was accused of the crime after he was found dead in his apartment. Dutchess County prosecutor Steven Pagones was also accused after he presented an alibi for Crist. But all of this fell apart when a grand jury found that Brawley had made up the entire story. They claim that she was never raped at all.
Brawley is now 40 years old working as a nurse down in Virginia.
“I don’t want to talk to anyone about that,” she said when reporters asked her a question about the incident.
Brawley allegedly uses the aliases Thompson and Gutierrez to keep people from associating her with the incident from long ago. She is reportedly working as a licensed practical nurse at The Laurels of Bon Air in Richmond.
“Are you serious? We don’t know her by that name. Isn’t that a trip?” one of her co-workers said upon finding out about her true identity.
The names “Tawana V. Gutierrez” and “Tawana V. Thompson” have allegedly been used to obtain the same nursing license in the state of Virginia. Her co-workers say that she does a good job.
The grand jury, which heard from 180 witnesses over seven months, said that they believed that Brawley made the story up in order to avoid getting into trouble for missing school and staying out too late. They said that the troubled teen had run away from home and was hiding in her parents’ old apartment after they’d been evicted.
Some say that Brawley lived in fear of her stepfather, Ralph King. King had served seven years in prison for killing his first wife. The young woman was even seen by a witness crawling into the plastic bag in which she was found and a substance was found under her nails that was used to scratch the n-word into her skin.
“It is probable that in the history of this state, never has a teenager turned the prosecutorial and judicial systems literally upside down with such false claims,” state Supreme Court Justice S. Barrett Hickman wrote.
Pagones sued Sharpton, Brawley and her attorneys for defamation and won a case back in 1998. Brawley still has not paid the $66,000 she owes Pagones. He continues to look for her and now knows to go after the nurse in Virginia.