Twenty-five years after Tawana Brawley’s claims of being raped by a gang of white men polarised New York City, the woman has been tracked down living in hiding in Virginia.
On November 28, 1987, the then-15-year-old was found in a trash bag, dazed, smeared with feces with the word n****r scrawled on her body.
She told police she had been abducted by two white men and driven to the woods where they and four others ravaged her for four days – one of which had a badge.
The case was catapulted onto the national stage by attorneys Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason, and the then-little-known Rev. Al Sharpton, who claimed she was raped 33 times.
Celebrities weighed in, with Bill Cosby posting a $25,000 reward for information on the case, Don King promised $100,000 for Brawley’s education and boxer Mike Tyson gave her a $30,000 watch to ease her pain.
Fishkill Police Officer Harry Crist Jr. was implicated after being found dead in his apartment a week after Brawley was discovered, and Dutchess County prosecutor Steven Pagones was also accused when he stepped in with an alibi for the 28-year-old.
But in 1988 a grand jury found the whole shocking story was a hoax, and Brawley was never raped.
Now 40 years old, The New York Post has tracked her down working as a nurse in Virginia.
‘I don’t want to talk to anyone about that,’ Brawley told the newspaper recently as she emerged from her apartment in Hopewell, Virginia, wearing scrubs.
She lives what appears to be a relatively normal life in a neatly kept brick apartment complex with signs warning of video surveillance cameras.
To avoid detection, Brawley goes by the aliases of Thompson and Gutierrez and has a young daughter, a neighbor told the Post.
She reportedly works as a licensed practical nurse at The Laurels of Bon Air in Richmond. But her co-workers have been in the dark about the incredible story of brutality, which turned out to be false.
‘Are you serious? We don’t know her by that name. Isn’t that a trip?’ one staffer said, adding that the woman who they call Tawana Gutierrez was ‘a good worker.’
According to a neighbor, Brawley has lived in Hopewell – Virginia’s most crime-laden town – for at least a year.
‘Tawana V. Gutierrez’ and ‘Tawana V. Thompson’ have held the same nursing license since 2006, state records show. The Virginia Board of Nursing confirmed issuing it to a ‘Tawana Vacenia Thompson Gutierrez.’
Brawley maintains a PO box in Claremont, Va., under the name Gutierrez, according to The Post’s sources.
The grand jury panel, which heard from 180 witnesses over its seven-month investigation, found that Brawley made up the story to avoid being punished for staying out late and missing school.
They found evidence she had ran away from home and was hiding out in her parents’ former apartment after they got evicted.
Many believed that Brawley feared her stepdad Ralph King’s and needed an alibi for her absence. King spent seven years in prison in the 1970s for killing his first wife.
Traces of the charcoal-like material used to scrawl the hateful word on her body were found under her fingernails, and she showed no signs of genital trauma or exposure, the jury found. One witness said Brawley was spotted climbing into the bin bag.
Source: The Daily Mail