Icons of the 1980s

Tawana Brawley
'80s Claim to Fame:
Cried Rape


In 1987, black teenager Tawana Brawley claimed that six white law enforcement officers abducted and raped her. Those claims and others that her attackers had scrawled racial insults on her body and smeared her with feces were declared a hoax by a grand jury that also exonerated the man at the center of the accusations, then-assistant district attorney Steven Pagones.

Pagones was named as one of the attackers by Miss Brawley's advisers: Maddox, the Rev. Al Sharpton and lawyer C. Vernon Mason. While Miss Brawley refused to speak with authorities or the media, her advisers were soon making wild claims. Jury selection was supposed to have started for the Pagones� defamation lawsuit, seeking more than $150 million from Miss Brawley�s three advisers when Maddox accused then-state Attorney General Robert Abrams of masturbating over photos of Miss Brawley. Sharpton compared Abrams, a Jew, to Adolf Hitler. All three linked then-Gov. Mario Cuomo to organized crime and the Ku Klux Klan.

But the grand jury within a year announced the story was a hoax and specifically cleared a Fishkill police officer and Pagones.

See also:

Al Sharpton Bio

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