As mounting evidence, or a lack thereof, casts doubts on actor Jussie Smollett’s claim that he was attacked, thoughts have turned to another hate crime hoax from more than three decades ago.
Fox Nation is taking a timely look back at the racially divisive and emotionally riveting saga of an African American teenager from New York who, in the 1980’s, falsely accused several white men of raping her. “Scandalous: The Mysterious Story of Tawana Brawley” is available now on the subscribers-only streaming network.
Brawley’s allegations from 1987 that she was raped by multiple men in the woods in Wappingers Falls, where she was left with racial slurs written on her body and wrapped in a plastic bag covered in feces, was later found to be nothing but a hoax. But in the months that transpired before the conclusion was reached by a grand jury in 1988, the community and even the nation were drawn into the dramatic saga that unfolded, complete with plot twists, protests and even the apparent launch of Al Sharpton’s career.
“We should have been upset by the fact that for a year or more this girl – and her advisers – had an entire community feeling like at any moment we were going to have some sort of civil war,” a Dutchess County attorney, Jonna Spilbor, said in the Fox Nation special.
According to Fox News:
“Scandalous: The Mysterious Story of Tawana Brawley” covers the entire story, from events leading up to the alleged incident to the defamation suit filed against Brawley and her attorneys by former Dutchess County prosecutor Steven Pagones — who had been falsely accused of raping the black teen.
It will feature interviews with major players in the incident, including Attorney General Robert Abrams, who led the investigation — and goes into detail about some of the repercussions Brawley has faced.
Brawley’s allegations “were not corroborated by any of the facts,” Abrams said, citing a “meticulous investigation” that eventually brought the truth to light. But a heavy price was paid by many whose reputations suffered from the ordeal.
“Her father lost his job, her aunt lost her job with the state, they lived on I-95 for a few months,” Graham Weatherspoon, a retired New York Police Department detective, said in the special. “They were living out of their car driving up and down I-95. It was so bad that even their credit cards had been shut down.”
Ironically, Sharpton, who served as the teen’s adviser, did not seem to suffer any repercussions.
“Sharpton has never apologized or even acknowledged the harm he did to this country by lying about Tawana Brawley. No one has forced him to. The lesson of Al Sharpton was clear to everyone watching: There are no penalties for hate hoaxes. There are only rewards.”
“Scandalous: The Mysterious Story of Tawana Brawley” i s available to view today on Fox Nation.