POUGHKEEPSIE, NY -- Tawana Brawley has started making payments to Steven Pagones, who won a defamation judgment against her in October 1998 after she falsely accused him of raping her.
But whether Pagones will ever be paid the $431,492 he is owed remains uncertain.
A Virginia court ordered Brawley's employer, The Laurels of Bon Air nursing home in Richmond, to garnish her wages.
Attorney Garry Bolnick, who represents Pagones, said Sunday that his client must "re-verify" that Brawley, a nurse who was working under the name Tawana V. Gutierrez, is still employed.
Under Virginia law, Pagones, who could not be reached Sunday, must renew his request for the wage garnishment every six months.
The Journal on Sunday attempted to reach Brawley at her place of employment by phone, but was referred to the director of the nursing home, who was not in.
Brawley has paid a little more than $3,700 to Pagones.
Bolnick said he sent the money, obtained from the court, to his client last week. The garnishment went into effect in February.
"It's not going to change anybody's life," Bolnick said of the payment. "The fact that she is forced to pay something is very important and very symbolic. It would be nice if she would pay off the entire judgment. Obviously, she's going to make us work for that."
In 1987, Brawley, then 15, was found in a trash bag, covered in feces and racial slurs. She claimed she was kidnapped and raped by a group of white men, and her high-profile attorneys and adviser, the Rev. Al Sharpton, later accused Pagones, then a prosecutor with the Dutchess County District Attorney's Office.
That case brought national media attention and racial tension to the county.
When a grand jury did not indict Pagones, he filed and won a slander lawsuit against Brawley, Sharpton and her attorneys. Brawley was the only one who didn't pay the restitution. She was initially ordered to pay $185,000, but now owes Pagones more than $400,000 because of interest.
Bolnick does not think Brawley can pay off her debt without help from Sharpton and the lawyers who represented her.
"The only way we will get the money," Bolnick said, "is if some of her so-called supporters come up with it."