HOPEWELL, Va. (WTVR)–A Virginia woman at the center of a hoax that grabbed headlines 26 years ago, has started paying restitution to the man she falsely accused of attacking her in New York when she was a teenager.
Last weekTawana Brawley sent 10 checks, for a total of $3,764, to Steven Pagones, after a Virginia judge ruled that the money be garnished from her salary as a nurse.
In 1987, 15-year-old Brawley accused a gang of white-men of abducting, raping and covering her with racial slurs written in feces.
Her story sparked national outrage, fueled racial tensions and gained the support of Reverend Al Sharpton and other civil right’s leaders, including attorneys C. Vernon Mason and Alton Maddox.
The three men became Brawley’s advisors and helped lead rallies in support of her.
They also pointed to a young New York prosecutor, Steven Pagones, as a suspect in the case.
However, a short-time later in 1988, a New York grand jury concluded Brawley’s story was a hoax concocted by a scared teenager who didn’t want to get into trouble with her step-father.
Pagones attorney, Gerry Bolnick, tells CBS 6 that the ordeal led to personal and professional heartache for Pagones and his family.
“Here’s an innocent man who was dragged through the mud being accused of these horribly heinous acts,” Bolnick says.
In 1998, Pagones won a defamation lawsuit against Brawley and her advisors.
Brawley was ordered to pay $190,000; Maddox was found liable for $97,000; Mason for $188,000; and Sharpton was told to pay $66,000.
While Maddox, Mason and Sharpton settled their debts in 2001, Bolnick says Brawley was nowhere to be found.
In 2012, the New York Post discovered Brawley is living in Virginia and working as a nurse at The Laurels of Bon Air in Richmond. With interest, Brawley now owes Pagones $431,000, which the court says Brawley must begin paying immediately.
Brawley, who now goes by the name Tawana Guitierrez, is living in Surry County and raising a daughter.
CBS 6 attempted to reach Brawley at her home Monday afternoon, but no one answered the door. A couple who approached the home, also refused to give a comment.
Brawley can appeal the judge’s decision every six months.
Bolnick says Pagones is willing to forgive all of Brawley’s debts if she apologizes and admits that she lied.
Pagones told the New York Post, “Every week, she’ll think of me. And every week, she can think about how she has a way out- she can simply tell the truth.”