Opinion: Columnists

Al Sharpton cannot escape his Tawana Brawley history

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Gregory Kane,Columnists,MSNBC,Analysis,Trayvon Martin,The New York Times

Heaven bless that Tawana Brawley. After weeks of looking at that smug, self-righteous, pious look on Al Sharpton's face, she's back in the news.

Oh come now, you've seen that look. It's the one Sharpton's has kept plastered on his kisser since the not-guilty verdicts in the George Zimmerman trial.

It's the one that Sharpton has displayed at rallies, usually accompanied by one or both parents of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old black youth Zimmerman was acquitted of slaying.

It's the one where Sharpton seems to be saying, "I am the moral conscience of the country, at least on racial matters."

Well, now Brawley's back, and it might take her presence in the news to remind Sharpton that he might want to abandon that pious look for something more fitting. Like, say, one of shame.

It was in 1998 that Brawley was ordered to pay Steven Pagano, a former prosecutor in New York, $190,000 for defaming him.

This year a Virginia court garnished her wages and had her pay Pagano over $3,700 of the debt, which has now ballooned to over $431,000 with interest.

Eleven years before the judgment, Brawley, then a 15-year-old girl living in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., accused Pagano and five other white men of kidnapping her and raping her over a four-day period in some woods.

Brawley is black. Enter one Al Sharpton, then an obscure minister, ranting, raving and race baiting.

Sharpton, along with two lawyers -- Alton Maddox and C. Vernon Mason -- acted as Brawley's supporters and "advisers."

They bought -- hook, line and sinker -- her tale of being abducted by two of the men and then driven to some woods, where the abductors and four other men raped her.

Sharpton and Brawley's other two "advisers" refused to have her cooperate with state officials. Sharpton called then-New York Gov. Mario Cuomo a racist, and insisted that having Brawley talk to the state attorney general would be akin to having a concentration camp inmate talk with Adolf Hitler.

Brawley said she was attacked on a November night in 1987. One year later, a New York grand jury investigated her allegations.

What did the grand jurors find after calling 180 witnesses, conducting a seven-month investigation and compiling 6,000 pages of testimony? Oh, things like this:

"[The jurors] found evidence that Brawley had [run] away from home and was hiding out in her parents' former apartment after they got evicted ... 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 crawling into the [trash] bag."

That was from the Aug. 4, 2013, edition of the Daily Mail of the United Kingdom.

"A Sharpton associate told news media at the time [of the grand jury investigation] that Ms. Brawley's lawyers ... and Mr. Sharpton 'were frauds from the beginning.' About six months after the hoax, Ms. Brawley's former boyfriend told Newsday she had invented the allegations, apparently to avoid a beating by her mother's boyfriend after running away from home for four days."

That was taken from a June 3, 2013, story in the New York Times. The evidence is pretty darned conclusive.

With her accusations, Brawley lied. By backing up her lies, Sharpton lied. He's built a 26-year career based on an egregious lie.

This is a man that has absolutely no right to walk around with a pious, smug look on his face. This is a man who, after Brawley's lies were exposed, should have given us only his silence.

Instead, what we've heard from him for the past 26 years is one left-wing, race-baiting rant after another. And now he's got his own television show to do his ranting and raving.

Only in America.

GREGORY KANE, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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