HOPEWELL, Va. (WTVR)–Tawana Brawley was just 15-years-old when she stood before television cameras and told the world she was gang-raped by a group of white men. She says the men abducted, raped and covered her body in racial slurs.
The world would later learn that Brawley’s story was a hoax, a terrible lie concocted by a scared or misguided teenager.
In 1988, a grand jury in New York concluded that “Tawana Brawley had not been abducted, assaulted, raped and sodomized as she had claimed.”
The 170-page report released by the Abrams Grand Jury also said that the “unsworn public allegations against Dutchess County Assistant District Attorney Steven Pagones” were false.
Twenty-five years later, Brawley is now paying $431,000 in restitution to Pegones, the former prosecutor who Brawley claimed was one of her attackers.
Last week, Brawley sent 10 checks, for a total of $3,764, to Pagones. A Virginia judge ruled that the money be garnished from her salary as a nurse.
While Brawley was just a teenager at the time of the incident, she was still held civilly responsible for the damages she caused Pagones.
“You can definitely be held liable for something you did when you were just 15-years-old,” says University of Richmond law professor Jack Preis.
However, court documents show that Brawley had several opportunities to erase her financial troubles dating back to 1988, when Pagones filed a defamation lawsuit against Brawley and three of her advisors, including Reverend Al Sharpton.
From the beginning, Pagones said that he would drop the lawsuit as long as Brawley apologized and admitted the truth.
Brawley wasn’t slapped with $5,000 in compensatory damages until 1989, when she refused to appear in court.
Ten years later, when Brawley continued to evade court appearences, the court awarded Pagones punitive damages in the amount of $180,000.
The court was unable to locate Brawley, who now goes by the name Tawana Guitierrez, until this year.
A New York Post reporter found Brawley living in Hopewell and working as a nurse. According to Pagones’ attorneys, she now resides in Surry County with her family.
With incurred interest, Brawley now owes Pagones $431,000.
“She certainly didn’t make it easier on herself,” Preis says. “If you wait twenty years or something, the results can be pretty scary.”
CBS 6 attempted to reach Brawley again on Tuesday, but her family refused to comment.