Steven Pagones

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Steven Pagones is a former Assistant District Attorney in Dutchess County, New York who was accused in 1987 by Tawana Brawley of raping her. A grand jury investigation concluded that Brawley had not been the victim of an attack and, though never proved, may have simulated the appearance of an attack herself.

Pagones subsequently filed a civil suit against Al Sharpton and lawyers C. Vernon Mason and Alton H. Maddox, seeking $395 million in damages for 22 alleged defamatory statements. On July 13, 1998, after an eight-month trial, a jury found Sharpton liable for defamation for seven of the statements, Mason for one, and Maddox for two. The jury deadlocked on four of the 22 statements over which Pagones had sued, and it found eight statements to be non-defamatory.[1] In a later interview, Pagones said the turmoil caused by the accusations of Brawley and her advisers had cost him his first marriage and much personal grief.[2]

On July 29, 1998, the jury awarded Pagones a total of $345,000 in damages. Sharpton was found liable for $65,000 of the amount, Maddox for $95,000, and Mason for $185,000.[3] The $65,000 judgment levied against Al Sharpton was paid for him in 2001 by supporters, including attorney Johnnie Cochran plus former businessman Earl G. Graves, Jr.[4][5] In December 2012, the New York Post reported that Maddox had paid his judgment of $97,000 and Mason was making payments on the $188,000 which he owed.

Pagones had also sued Brawley. She defaulted by not appearing at the trial, and the judge ordered her to pay him damages of $185,000.[6] Brawley reportedly had not made any payments.[7] The following month a court ordered her wages garnished to pay Pagones.[8][9]

Pagones went on to become an Assistant State Attorney General.


  1. ^ "Winner in Brawley suit says victory is bittersweet.". CNN. Retrieved June 21, 2007. Former prosecutor Steven Pagones said Monday that his victory over the Rev. Al Sharpton and two other advisers to Tawana Brawley in his racially charged, $395 million lawsuit was bittersweet. [dead link]
  2. ^ Sverdlik, Alan. (1999-02-16) "Pagones and Wife Split – He Blames Stress of Brawley Ordeal", New York Post, retrieved 2009-12-29.
  3. ^ Pagones v Maddox, et al. - Supreme Court Of New York Decision
  4. ^ "Sharpton's Debt in Brawley Defamation Is Paid by Supporters", New York Times, June 15, 2001
  5. ^ Norman, Tony (November 20, 2007). "Al Sharpton: Dogged by a sleeping lie". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved April 22, 2008. 
  6. ^ Fried, Joseph P. (March 2, 2003). "Hoping Brawley Thinks Of 'Damage She Caused'.". New York Times. Retrieved March 20, 2007. His life was derailed by a racially charged accusation that a New York State investigation later found to be a hoax. But these days, he says, he focuses on moving forward rather than on the nationally notorious events that ensnared him. 
  7. ^ Italiano, Laura (December 25, 2012). "Now pay up, Tawana". New York Post. Retrieved December 25, 2012. 
  8. ^ Bennett, Chuck (January 31, 2013). "Tawana Brawley served with court order to pay man she accused of rape in 1987". New York Post. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  9. ^ Gartland, Michael (August 4, 2013). "Pay-up time for Brawley: '87 rape-hoaxer finally shells out for slander". New York Post. Retrieved August 11, 2013.