In 1988, the nation learned the truth about the alleged crimes against Tawana Brawley, but the shocking story was far from over.

The Tawana Brawley Story

Producer: Kit R. Roane
Reporters: Joseph Demma and Ross Tuttle
Editor: Jeff Bernier

In the late 1980s, Tawana Brawley became a household name as her horrifying story spread across the country, igniting outrage and setting off a fierce debate about race in America.

Brawley, after all, was a 15-year old African American teenager, who had been allegedly assaulted by six white men – including a police officer – from her upstate New York community.

But as her tale played out on the nightly news, another story unfolded, one that raised serious questions about Brawley’s claims and her advisers, including the Rev. Al Sharpton. In the end, the Brawley case ensnared the innocent, damaged reputations and ruined lives. And as Retro Report found, through interviews with state investigator John Ryan, journalist Wayne Barrett and Rev. Sharpton, the Tawana Brawley story has come to define a particular moment in New York history ripe for just such a deception and, twenty-five years later, continues to leave its stamp on how we think about race in America.


More on the Story

Tawana Brawley alleges being raped after she was found in a trash bag in 1987 The Daily News
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