Tawana Brawley FAQ

1. Who was Tawana Brawley in 1987?
Tawana Brawley was fifteen years of age living in Wappingers Falls, New York. She was a B student in high school and a cheerleader. Her community activities included being a member of a gospel choir.

2. What happened to Tawana Brawley on the evening of November 24, 1987?
Tawana Brawley had gotten off a Shortline Bus on Route 9 and was walking on an unlighted county road to her home when two white men, one of whom displayed a badge grabbed Tawana and placed her in a vehicle. She was later raped and sodomized by six white men. When found, on November 28, she was virtually unconscious with feces smeared on her body coupled with racial epithets.

3. Who was Steven Pagones in November 1987?
He was an assistant district attorney in Dutchess County. His father was a city court judge and his uncle, who is now the most powerful judge in Dutchess County, was a family court judge.

4. Where was Steven Pagones on the evening of November 24, 1987?
According to Edwin Garcia, who was a close friend of Pagones and a state policeman, Pagones admitted to him that he was in the vicinity of the bus stop on Route 9 when Tawana alighted from the bus and that he needed an alibi to mislead police investigators. He had just left a nudie bar.

5. What did Pagones tell policemen about his whereabouts on the evening of November 24?
Pagones told the police and testified under oath before a grand jury and at the defamation trial that he was home with his fiancee whom he married before the defamation trial started in November 1997. She failed or refused to testify on his behalf at the defamation trial. She separated from her marital abode very soon after the trial ended in July 1998. Earlier in the evening, he claimed that he and his fiancee were with his parents. Neither his mother nor his father took the witness stand to support his alibi claim.

Pagones also displayed an undated photograph at his trial which depicted only his alleged leg. He claimed that this generic photograph supported his alibi.

6. Why didn’t Tawana cooperate with law enforcement officials?
Initially, Tawana did cooperate with law enforcement officials. Two days after she was released from the hospital, a female agent of the FBI, the state police, the local police and the district attorney’s office interviewed Tawana at length which comprised more than twelve pages of a deposition. An attorney from the NAACP was also present at her home on November 30. Eleven years later, it was discovered that the FBI agent was Pagones’ girlfriend. Soon afterwards, Alton Maddox retained a female gynecologist in Orange County, New York who was unknown to him to examine Tawana. She ordered Tawana’s immediate hospitalization at the Westchester County Medical Center of which medical records documented that Tawana had been raped. Abrams later deleted the rape conclusion from the medical record.

7. What did law enforcement officials do with the interview?
They suppressed the deposition and claimed that Tawana refused to talk or cooperate with them. The Brawley family became suspicious of the “investigation.” Maddox had repeatedly sought discovery of the Brawley files for at least ten years before the defamation trial. Most of the Brawley file is still under lock and key to this day. New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is currently sitting on the files to protect high level public officials from charges of a cover-up including former Gov. Mario Cuomo and former New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani who was the U.S. attorney in 1987.

8. Didn’t the NAACP come forward to refute the claim by law enforcement officials that Tawana never cooperated with them?
Although the NAACP had personal knowledge of the Brawley interview with law enforcement officials on Monday, November 30, 1987, the NAACP violated its duty to speak out and tell the truth. The NAACP was supposedly providing legal counsel to Tawana.

To this date, the NAACP has never sought to refute the false claim of Tawana’s non-cooperation. In fact, several NAACP officials repeatedly attacked Brawley, Maddox, Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. C. Vernon Mason throughout 1987 and 1988. The NAACP attorney would later become a judge in Orange County, New York. In December 1987, it was reported that the NAACP and the District Attorney of Dutchess County were developing a financial relationship or that local officials were dispensing money to the NAACP regarding Brawley.

9. Who was Harry Crist Jr?
He was a police officer in Dutchess County and a friend of Pagones.

10. How did Harry Crist’s name surface during the Brawley investigation?
Tawana had given a description on November 30 which fitted that of Harry Crist. Within forty-eight hours of the interview, he reportedly had committed suicide. Pagones may have been one of the last persons to have seen Crist alive and within hours of his death. He claims that he last saw Crist alive on November 28.

11. Is there anyway that Harry Crist could have been informed that Tawana had given a description which fitted him?
Yes, Steven Pagones’ girlfriend, but not his fiancee, was the FBI agent who had been assigned to the Brawley investigation and she was present when Tawana gave a description which fitted that of Crist. She continued to be the lead FBI agent even after Maddox publicly accused Pagones in March 1988 of having kidnapped and raped Tawana. She never made public her social relationship with Pagones. It came to light in the eleventh hour of the defamation trial and only after Maddox doggedly pursued the FBI for discovery materials. Abrams had to have known of this conflict-of-interest.

12. Did the FBI conspire against Tawana Brawley?
Yes. Michael Malone was a rouge FBI agent who, after an intensive Congressional investigation, was found to have testified perjuriously throughout the country which included false testimony nearly leading to the execution of an innocent woman in Pennsylvania and the framing of Judge Alcee Hastings which contributed to his removal from the federal bench in Miami, FL.

Malone came to New York at the behest of Abrams and Giuliani and gave false testimony to the grand jury which, in effect, amounted to a claim that, based on scientific evidence, Tawana had perpetrated a hoax. He was one of Abrams’ many hired perjurers with a mission to defame Tawana and to protect Pagones and his confederates.

13. Did Harry Crist actually commit suicide as New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams claimed?
No. The autopsy report which was suppressed for approximately eleven years asserts that Crist was the victim of a homicide. No suicide note was ever given to the pathologist who examined the body and Abrams suppressed it if any note ever existed. The pathologist, Dr. Alexander Aplasca, testified that he never observed nor documented a self-inflicted wound on Crist’s body. He was never shown the weapon which caused the fatal injury. He found no gases and substances, which would be emitted from a weapon, on Crist’s body or on his hands. The police never gave the pathologist any crime scene photos. Pagones’ friend, Scott Patterson, whose father was one of the highest-ranking officials in the state police department, had a key to Crist’s apartment. Patterson became one of Gov. George Pataki’s personal bodyguards.

14. Did Abrams call Dr. Aplasca to testify before the grand jury about the cause or manner of death?
No. Abrams never contacted Dr. Aplasca. Instead, he hired Dr. Michael Baden to tell the grand jury that Crist committed suicide even though Baden never examined the body and he never contacted Dr. Aplasca. Abrams deviously feared that a homicide investigation might ensnare Pagones.

15. Did Pagones initially engage in suspicious conduct or conduct which could be inferred as proof of his guilt?
Yes. Edwin Garcia, in effect, stated that immediately after Pagones’ girlfriend, the FBI agent, participated in the interview of Tawana, Pagones, coincidentally, asked Garcia, the state trooper, to maintain a surveillance of the Brawley family. He did, including the stopping of Ralph King, Tawana’s stepfather. Garcia came forward in 1997 after he read a New York Magazine article in which Pagones was proclaiming his innocence. Garcia knows better.

Pagones’ arson investigator, a deputy sheriff in Dutchess County, inexplicably, went to the hospital to secure Tawana’s rape kit. He purportedly moved out of the state and has not been able to be located or summoned to court. No accounting was ever given of the questionable rape kit especially since hospital personnel removed the feces from Tawana’s body first. The washing resulted in the removal of trace evidence.

16. What, if anything, did Pagones do after the death of Crist?
He went to District Attorney William Grady, his boss, in early December and stated that he was an alibi witness for Crist on Saturday, November 28. Pagones stated that he, Crist, Scott Patterson and Gene Branson, a public utility worker, had gone to the Danbury Mall in Connecticut on the morning of November 28 and had shopped all day even though he had no memory in 1998 of any purchases and he had no sales receipts to support his alibi.

17. Did any witness refute or cast doubt on Pagones’ claim that he and Crist, among others, were at the Danbury Mall?
Yes. In January 1988, a mail carrier was summoned to the grand jury to testify about Glenda Brawley’s mail at her former residence. He got before the local grand jury but he was never allowed to testify about anything he had told an assistant district attorney about four suspicious white men. In a by-the-way conversation to prosecutors before his grand jury testimony, he stated that he saw four white men in a former police car at about the time when Tawana was found on November 28th. They appeared suspicious. The car fitted the description of Crist’s former police car. He believed in his gut that these white men had something to do with Tawana’s disappearance for four days. In his deposition, Pagones testified that Tawana had been “dumped.” This fact had never been made public and was only known to the kidnappers.

18. After listening to the white, mail carrier, what act did the district attorney do?
He reinterviewed Pagones who stated, six weeks after the original interview that he recalled Crist, en route to the Danbury Mall, asking about a missing girl with feces smeared over her body. This fact was unknown to everyone except a kidnapper since his alleged trip to Danbury Mall preceded the finding of Tawana on November 28.

19. Did this interview in January prompt the district attorney to recuse himself from the case?
Yes. He asked the County Court judge, Judith Hillery, to appoint a special district attorney to investigate the kidnapping and rape claims. Within twenty-four hours, the special district attorney withdrew from the case without publicly specifying the basis for the withdrawal. The basis for the withdrawal -Pagones- was suppressed for approximately ten years. County Court Judge Judith Hillery wrote to Gov. Mario Cuomo in January 1988 requesting the appointment of a special prosecutor because an assistant district attorney, Pagones, was a suspect in the kidnapping and rape of Tawana Brawley and he was refusing to leave his post. This letter was sealed and kept from the public until the defamation trial in 1987-1988. Cuomo had knowledge of Pagones’ suspect status in January 1988 but he would publicly denounce Maddox for fingering Pagones in March 1988. The district attorney also confidentially advised the FBI that it should begin to focus on Pagones. The FBI secretly sought to question Pagones in January 1988 and it suggested that he should retain an attorney. He did and, in effect, took the “Fifth” on February 11, 1988 by refusing, through his criminal defense attorney, to answer any questions about Tawana Brawley. This fact of Pagones’ non-cooperation was kept from the public while Abrams was publicly accusing Tawana of refusing to cooperate with his investigation. When Abrams became the special prosecutor in February 1988, he announced, afterwards, that he had no suspects. The announcement was made when the special grand jury was starting its investigation. This statement from Abrams, clearing Pagones, preceded the grand jury investigation even though Abrams knew that Pagones suspect status was the basis for the district attorney’s recusal.

20. Did Pagones commit perjury or make false statements during his pre-trial deposition in early March 1997?
Yes. Pagones initially testified that he had retained an attorney on March 14, 1988 after Maddox publicly accused him of being involved in the kidnapping and rape of Tawana. The lawyer was retained, Pagones then claimed, to sue Maddox. Later, he changed his story. He had retained a criminal defense attorney before March 13, 1998 to deal with the media. This was also a lie. Actually, Pagones had retained a criminal defense attorney in January 1988 to represent him in a federal civil rights investigation concerning the deprivation of Tawana’s civil rights. He lied, obviously, to shield the fact that he was a suspect which would have weakened his prosecution of a defamation trial and would have exposed Cuomo and Abrams. The fact that he was a criminal suspect never surfaced until late in the defamation trial. Pagones and his father, who was his attorney, had an ethical obligation not to support perjured testimony. As a judge and attorney, his father had an ethical obligation to expose his son’s perjured testimony. This is the law. Instead, he pursued Maddox with a vengeance. At a very minimum, he should have been stripped of his status as a judge and attorney for aiding and abetting a perjurer and covering up a crime. Pagones should have faced a criminal prosecution in addition to a disbarment proceeding.

21. If the jury found against Maddox and in favor of Pagones, why does Maddox continue to publicly accuse Pagones of being involved in the kidnapping and rape of Tawana Brawley?
The defamation jury did not find against Maddox and in favor of Pagones. If the jury had found in favor of Pagones, he could continue to sue Maddox every time Maddox pointed a finger at him. Because of the doctrine of res judicata and collateral estoppel, Maddox is in a better position now than he was when he first accused Pagones in March 1988. Maddox now has a license to publicly accuse Pagones since the jury found that Maddox had not defamed him when he publicly accused Pagones of being involved in the kidnapping and rape of Tawana.

22. Why did Maddox and Rev. Al Sharpton make a post-judgment motion to vacate and set aside the judgments in the defamation trial under CPLR Section 5015?
Maddox found a Brawley grand juror in Idaho who executed an affidavit asserting that the grand jury had been denied the right to conduct the grand jury investigation and to write a grand jury report as required under Article 190 of the Criminal Procedure Law. Instead, it had been written by Abrams after he had manipulated the grand jury. This means that Abrams lied to the public and his deputy attorney general, Jack Ryan, had perpetrated perjury at the defamation trial when he testified to the authentication of the grand jury report. By law, the grand jury report, which Abrams claimed had accused Tawana of perpetrating a “hoax,” should still be suppressed and the money judgments should be reversed because Abrams perpetrated a fraud on the jury and the public. The Appellate Division, Second judicial Department would later rule that it had no jurisdiction to interfere with prosecutorial misconduct. This allowed the bogus “hoax” claim to stand.

23. If jurisdiction is an issue concerning prosecutorial misconduct, which should be entertained in the trial court, what did Justice S. Barrett Hickman have to say about the issue?
Justice Hickman ruled on the issue of prosecutorial misconduct in favor of Maddox and no person sought to appeal his ruling. In fact, Pagones defaulted by failing to file an appellate brief challenging any of the jurisdictional arguments or issues on appeal. This fact alone should have required the appeals court to rule in favor of Maddox and Sharpton and suppressing the “hoax” claim. Justice Hickman ruled on the jurisdictional question, in pertinent part, as follows: In his opposing submissions, the Attorney General raises an argument that the Court lacks jurisdiction since the jury rendered its verdict and the appeal has been dismissed. However, as the justice who presided over the very complicated and lengthy trial with important constitutional issues, the undersigned is of the opinion that a motion based on alleged newly discovered evidence [prosecutorial misconduct] should not be summarily dismissed but should be addressed by the trial justice. In any event, CPLR 5015 subd. 2 provides for the trial court to consider such a motion. Thus, the argument is rejected.

24. Did the Dutchess County jury find Maddox liable for making any statements?
Yes. The jury found that Maddox had defamed Crist by claiming that his death was a homicide. Truth is a defense in a defamation case even though the presiding trial judge, S. Barrett Hickman, initially ruled that truth was no defense. The autopsy report stated that another person killed Crist.

Also, neither a dead man nor his estate can sue for defamation. Maddox pointed this out to the judge but he ruled that the jury could find Maddox liable for defaming Crist and William Grady, the District Attorney or Dutchess County, who never sued Maddox . According to Justice Hickman, Pagones could collect the damages.

25. Did Bill Cosby and Ed Lewis, publisher of Essence magazine ever get involved in the Tawana Brawley case?
Yes. They posted a reward on February 11, 1988 for information in the kidnap and rape of Tawana. The reward was for Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00)

26. Did anyone ever come forward with information that could have publicly identified a participant in the crimes against Tawana?
Yes. Maddox called a press conference for March 13, 1988 and publicly exposed Pagones. This revelation caught the law enforcement community by surprise because Pagones’ status as a suspect was confidential. The political establishment, which included members of the New York Legislature, turned the table and vowed to destroy Maddox at the behest of Cuomo, Abrams and Giuliani.

27. What happened to Justice Hickman?
He lost his bid to continue to sit on the bench. Maddox had posted the amount of the money damages with the Westchester County Supreme Court to serve as an appeals bond. Hickman who presided over cases in Putnam County was assigned to hear the defamation case in Dutchess County after all of the Dutchess County judges refused to hear the case. Justice Hickman went to South Africa to visit his wife’s settlement. Under apartheid, she was privileged. In the interim, Maddox posted the amount of the appeals bond in escrow with a stipulation that Hickman could not summarily dispense the money to Pagones. He did upon his return to the United States and Maddox filed a complaint against him with the state Commission on Judicial Conduct which has the power to remove judges. Afterwards, Justice Hickman was removed from the bench. No lawyer or judge can violate an escrow agreement.

28. Has Maddox been able to get any support for the Brawley case and for his effort to be reinstated to the practice of law?
Yes and no. The grassroots community has been supportive of Maddox during his fourteen-year suspension which occurred in May 1990 while he was representing Rev. Al Sharpton on a 67-count indictment. Maddox will always be remembered as “the people’s attorney” for his continued efforts to represent, pro bono, the oppressed, the downtrodden and the despised.

On the other hand, all Black elected officials and high-profile Black leaders in New York are wedded to the Democratic Party which put out the “hit” on Maddox. They would lose their rank and their privileges if they supported Maddox even though Maddox represented many of them pro bono. They would also antagonize many reactionary whites by supporting Maddox.

29. What will Maddox do next?
He intends to sue in federal court to secure exculpatory files in the possession of the state attorney general which will expose the cover-up and support Maddox’s automatic reinstatement to practice law. Otherwise, he intends to gather grassroots support to conduct an international campaign to expose the judicial racism in the United States and, particularly, in New York.

30. Why is Alton Maddox still suspended from the practice of law in New York?
Maddox was suspended from the practice of law in May 1990 amid his representation of Rev. Al Sharpton in a 67-count indictment ostensibly because he failed and refused to disclose files involving Tawana Brawley and Rev. Al Sharpton. Facing defeat during the lengthy trial, the government became desperate. Only a client can waive an attorney-client privilege. Maddox was put in a Catch-22 situation.

The political establishment had doggedly pursued Maddox for years including a criminal prosecution, grand jury investigations, disciplinary proceedings and administrative investigations because he was a master at his craft and he consistently used it to defend the down-trodden, the dispossessed and the despised and, invariably, pro bono.

Among other things, he had successfully represented scores of unpopular defendants and causes, he had exposed corruption and he had caused the removal of many white officials from public service and public office. He became a one-man wrecking team.

Once it ensnared Maddox in 1990, the political establishment decided that New York would be safer if Maddox were muzzled. Initially, it suspended him for a period of nearly ten years which exceeds the seven-years maximum penalty for disbarment before a disbarred attorney can apply for reinstatement to practice law.

Once Maddox served the ten years and beyond with continued community support and his continued community activism, the political establishment is now seeking to have him disbarred for refusing to show remorse and for still being too defiant. Through pro bono defenses, since 1990, Maddox’s legal skills have only improved. There is still no rust in his transmission and no reverse gear.

In a white supremacist society, no Black leader, Black elected official, lawyer or judge is allowed to take this attitude. The hallmark of a democracy is the right of representation. Even though Blacks are nominally allowed to be politically present in the three branches of government, Blacks still must stay in their place and not challenge white authority unless they are, in effect, acting as comedians or entertainers.