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Pagones v. Maddux, Mason and Sharpton
Tawana Brawley Grand Jury Report

In November of 1987, a 15-year-old girl named Tawana Brawley was found in upstate New York, covered with feces and racial slurs written in charcoal. Brawley, who is black, claimed to have been abducted and raped by six white law enforcement officers.

A decade later, the men who advised Brawley after the alleged incident -- Al Sharpton, Alton Maddox, and lawyer C. Vernon Mason -- are being sued by one of those six men: Steven Pagones, then a local prosecutor, now an assistant state attorney general.

In a trial that began December 3, 1997 in a Duchess County, New York courtroom, Pagones sought damages for defamation that escalated during the course of the trial from $150 million to $395 million, but returned to $150 million during the eventual damages phase.

Brawley, now 25 and called Maryam Muhammad, appeared after 10-year silence at a Brooklyn rally the night before her advisors' trial began to insist once more that her charges are true.

Her case was ultimately thrown out in 1988 when a grand jury determined that her story was not credible. Justice S. Barrett Hickman of the New York State Supreme Court has allowed that report to be included as evidence in the current trial.

On July 13, 1998, after a trial lasting almost eight months, a jury found the three advisors liable for defaming Pagones.

Just over two weeks later, on July 29, the jury awarded Pagones $345,000 in damages, about two percent of the amount he originally sought. Sharpton was found liable for $65,000 of the total damages, Maddox for $95,000 and Mason for $185,000.

Here is the full text of the 1988 grand jury report that cleared Pagones and the other alleged attackers of any wrongdoing.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • INTRODUCTION
  • THE EVENTS SURROUNDING THE DISAPPEARANCE AND THE DISCOVERY OF TAWANA BRAWLEY
  • THE ALLEGATIONS OF WHAT WAS DONE TO TAWANA BRAWLEY.
  • THE EVIDENCE AS TO TAWANA BRAWLEY'S WHEREABOUTS
  • THE EVIDENCE AS TO TAWANA BRAWLEY'S MEDICAL CONDITION
  • THE EVIDENCE AS TO A POSSIBLE SEXUAL ASSAULT
  • THE PSYCHIATRIC EVIDENCE
  • THE EVIDENCE AS TO TAWANA BRAWLEY'S PHYSICAL APPEARANCE
  • THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST STEVEN PAGONES AND OTHERS
  • CONCLUSIONS

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