Daily Archives: February 7, 2014

Tawana 2.0

I know you’re sick of looking at her smug little punim


but in the midst of this tsunami of “outrage” and prurience a question arises



Tawana Glenda Brawley (born 1972) is an African-American woman from Wappingers Falls, New York, who gained notoriety in 1987–88 for falsely accusing six white men of having raped her.
The charges received widespread national attention because of her age (15), the persons accused (including police officers and a prosecuting attorney), and the shocking state in which Brawley was found after the alleged rape (in a trash bag, with racial slurs written on her body and covered in feces). Brawley’s accusations were given widespread media attention in part from the involvement of her advisers, including the Reverend Al Sharpton and attorneys Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason.
After hearing evidence, a grand jury concluded in October 1988 that Brawley had not been the victim of a forcible sexual assault and that she herself may have created the appearance of an attack. The New York prosecutor whom Brawley had accused as one of her alleged assailants successfully sued Brawley and her three advisers for defamation.
Brawley initially received considerable support from the African-American community. Some scholars suggested that Brawley was victimized by biased reporting that adhered to racial stereotypes. The mainstream media’s coverage drew heated criticism from the African-American press and leaders for its treatment of the teenager. The grand jury’s conclusions decreased support for Brawley and her advisers. Brawley’s family has maintained that the allegations were true.

Does this have a familiar ring?

The case exposed deep mistrust in the black community about winning justice from legal institutions. Some opinions remained fixed. Legal scholar Patricia J. Williams wrote in 1991 that the teenager “has been the victim of some unspeakable crime. No matter how she got there. No matter who did it to her and even if she did it to herself.” These comments aroused controversy as well. On May 21, 1990, Alton H. Maddox was indefinitely suspended by the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn after failing to appear before a disciplinary hearing to answer allegations regarding his conduct in the Brawley case.
In 1998, Pagones was awarded $345,000 (he sought $395 million) through a lawsuit for defamation of character that he had brought against Sharpton, Maddox and Mason. The jury found Sharpton liable for making seven defamatory statements about Pagones, Maddox for two and Mason for one. The jury deadlocked on four of the 22 statements over which Pagones had sued, and it found eight statements to be non-defamatory. 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
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. 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. 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. Brawley reportedly had not made any paymentsThe following month a court ordered her wages garnished to pay Pagones.
Brawley has maintained she did not invent the story; in a 1997 appearance, she still had supporters. In November 2007, Brawley’s stepfather and mother, in a 20th-anniversary feature for the New York Daily News, contended the attack happened. “How could we make this up and take down the state of New York? We’re just regular people,” Glenda Brawley said, adding, “We should be millionaires.” They said they had asked New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Governor Eliot Spitzer to reopen the case. They also said that Brawley, who has converted to Islam, would speak at any legal proceedings.
The events were alluded to in Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do the Right Thing, in which a scene showed a brick wall bearing the graffiti message “Tawana told the truth”


remains Spike Lee’s signal achievement.

Meanwhile Al Sharpton has a show on MSNBC.

And so shortly will Ronan Farrow.


But what of Dylan and her African-American twin Tawana? Perhaps Sasha Weiss of The New Yorker (Yes, The New Yorker) might be able to enlighten us.

Or perhaps not.

There are certain accusations of rape so spectacular that a huge number of people, when they hear about them, are driven to pour out grief and anger—the high-school girl in Steubenville, Ohio; the three women trapped in the Cleveland house of horrors; the young woman gang-raped in Delhi. The women’s ordeals seem to belong, for a time, to everyone: newspapers and social media carry the developing stories while the public tries to understand. But there is another category of rape accusation—when a long time has passed since the alleged event, and, most important, when it happens within a family—that incites more fitful, ambivalent expressions of outrage.

“Ambivalent” is right

These things are difficult to talk about, which is why they are worth talking about. While taking seriously that we don’t know all the facts—that this public discussion must be traumatic for Dylan Farrow and could utterly, and possibly unfairly, ruin Allen’s reputation—our talking about it, with sensitivity and care and journalistic rigor, is not simply prurient. It reinforces Phyllis Rose’s insight that the mysteries of family life are where politics begin. We shouldn’t look away from those mysteries.

For clarification that neither Weiss, nor any of other Farrow-istas can supply Here’s a Blast From The Past


The McMartin Preschool Abuse Trial, the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history, should serve as a cautionary tale. When it was all over, the government had spent seven years and $15 million dollars investigating and prosecuting a case that led to no convictions. More seriously, the McMartin case left in its wake hundreds of emotionally damaged children, as well as ruined careers for members of the McMartin staff. No one paid a bigger price than Ray Buckey, one of the principal defendants in the case, who spent five years in jail awaiting trial for a crime (most people recognize today) he never committed. McMartin juror Brenda Williams said that the trial experience taught her to be more cautious: “I now realize how easily something can be said and misinterpreted and blown out of proportion.” Another juror, Mark Bassett, singled out “experts” for blame: “I thought some of the expert testimony about the children told you more about the expert than the child. I mean, if the expert says children are always 100% believable and then you have a child who is not believable, either the expert is extremely biased or they’ve never seen anything like that child before.”

I’ll go with biased.

The McMartin trial had its origins in a call placed to police in Manhattan Beach, California by Judy Johnson, the mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old son who attended the McMartin Preschool on about ten occasions in 1983. Johnson told Detective Jane Hoag that a school aide, Ray Buckey, the 25-year-old son of the owner of the preschool, had molested her son. Despite the fact that the young boy was unable to identify Ray from photos and medical investigations of the boy showed no signs of sexual abuse, the police conducted searches of Buckey’s home, confiscating such “evidence” as a rubber duck, a graduation robe, a Teddy bear, and Playboy magazines. Detective Hoag arrested Buckey on September 7, 1983.
Judy Johnson’s reports of misbehavior at the McMartin Preschool became increasingly bizarre. She claimed that Peggy Buckey, Ray’s mother, was involved in satanic practices: she was said to have taken Johnson’s son to a church, where the boy was made to watch a baby being beheaded, and then was forced to drink the blood. She insisted that Ray Buckey had sodomized her son while his head was in the toilet, and had taken him to a car wash and locked him in the trunk. Johnson told police that Ray pranced around the preschool in a cape and a Santa Claus costume, and that other teachers at the school chopped up rabbits and placed “some sort of star” on her son’s bottom.
Eventually most prosecutors would come to recognize Johnson’s allegations as the delusions of a paranoid schizophrenic, but the snowball of suspicion had been started rolling. Chief Kuhlmeyer’s letter led to new accusations and demands from parents for a full-scale investigation of doings at the McMartin Preschool. Bowing to this pressure, the District Attorney’s office handed a major portion of the continuing investigation over to Kee MacFarlane, a consultant for the Children’s Institute International (CII), an agency for the treatment of abused children.


I’ve no doubt Mia has her on speed-dial

Parents were encouraged to send their children to CII for two-hour interviews. MacFarlane pressed 400 children, through a series of leading questions and the offer of rewards, to report instances of abuse at McMartin. Children generally denied seeing any evidence of abuse at first, but eventually many gave MacFarlane the stories that she clearly wanted to hear. After the interviews, MacFarlane told parents that their children had been abused, and described the nature of the alleged abuse. By March 1984, 384 former McMartin students had been diagnosed as sexually abused.
In addition to interviews, 150 children received medical examinations. Dr. Astrid Heger, of CII, concluded that 80% of the children she examined had been molested. For the most part, she based her findings not on physical evidence, but on medical histories and her belief that “any conclusion should validate the child’s history.”
On March 22, 1984, a grand jury indicted Ray Buckey, Peggy Buckey (Ray’s mother), Peggy Ann Buckey (Ray’s sister), Virginia McMartin (founder of the preschool thirty years earlier), and three other McMartin teachers, Mary Ann Jackson, Bette Raidor, and Babette Spitler. The grand jury initially indicted the “McMartin Seven” on 115 counts of child sexual abuse. Two months later, and additional 93 indictment counts were added, as District Attorney Robert Philobosian pursued his strategy of hyping the McMartin case to boost his chances in an upcoming primary election. In June, bail for Peggy Buckey was set at one million dollars. Ray Buckey was held without bail.

No nude photographs of children were discovered, despite the insistence of investigators and parents that such photographing was commonplace at McMartin. No evidence was found of the “secret rooms” where massive instances of sexual abuse were said to have taken place. In March 1985, a group of nearly fifty McMartin parents, determined to unearth the fabled secret tunnels, began digging at a lot next to the school. A few days later, the parents were joined in their efforts by an archeological firm hired by the District Attorney’s office. Still, no secret rooms were ever discovered.


How Rittebandesque!

The prosecution’s child witnesses, ranging in age from eight to fifteen, repeated many of their stories from the preliminary hearing. Jurors heard of the Naked Movie Star Game, Ray Buckey scaring the children into silence by executing a cat with a knife, and numerous graphic accounts of sexual abuse by both Ray and Peggy Buckey. The defense countered with evidence of contradictions between trial testimony and testimony at the preliminary hearing, videotaped interviews in which the children denied that they were molested, and CII interviews revealing MacFarlane coaching children and rewarding “right” answers.
The defense tried to produce a child witness of its own, the young boy who started the whole investigation rolling: the son of Judy Johnson. With Judy Johnson now deceased, the boy’s father flatly told reporters that his son would testify “over my dead body.” Judge Pounders agreed with Johnson that trial testimony might prove too stressful for his son and declared the boy legally unavailable as a witness.
Perhaps the key witness in the trial was CII therapist Kee MacFarlane. In her five weeks on the stand, MacFarlane fought to defend her controversial interview techniques that included naked puppets, anatomically correct dolls, and telling children what other children had previously reported about sexual abuse at the McMartin School. Before MacFarlane finished her lengthy testimony, even Judge Pounders was expressing concern about her techniques. Outside of the presence of the jury, Pounders declared, “In my view, her credibility is becoming more of an issue as she testifies here.”
Defense expert Dr. Michael Maloney, professor of psychiatry at USC, further discredited MacFarlane’s interview techniques. Maloney criticized the technique as presenting children with a “script” that discouraged “spontaneous information” and instead encouraged the children to supply expected answers to “please mother and father” and prove themselves “good detectives.”
Another distinct weakness in the prosecution’s case was the lack of medical evidence of sexual abuse. Although Dr. Astrid Heger testified that she found numerous scars “consistent with rape,” the defense’s medical expert, Dr. David Paul, said that his review of the medical evidence turned up virtually no evidence of molestation. In the case of nine of the eleven alleged victims, Paul found the body parts to be “perfectly normal.”

See also reports of Dylan Farrow that the anti-Woody lynch mob is twisting itself into knots to discredit.

On November 2, 1989, after nearly thirty months of testimony, the case went to the jury. The jury spent another two-and-a-half months deliberating its verdicts. On fifty-two of the sixty-five charges against the two defendants (some charges were dropped during the trial), including all of the charges against Peggy Buckey, the jury returned an acquittal. On the thirteen remaining charges against Ray Buckey, the jury announced that it was hopelessly deadlocked. Jury foreperson Luis Chang explained the vote: “The interview tapes were too biased; too leading. That’s the main crux of it.” Another juror told reporters, “Whether I believe he did it and whether it was proven are very different.” Judge Pounders offered his own appraisal of the verdict: “I was not surprised by the verdicts. I would not have been surprised at any decision the jury made.”



The second trial was a much more focused proceeding, involving only eight counts of molestation and three children. The prosecution presented its entire case in just thirteen days (compared to fifteen months in the first trial) and offered only eleven witnesses. One of the witnesses was a mother who, on the stand, glared at Ray Buckey and announced, “I’m so angry at you, I could kill you right now.” The prosecution chose not to call CII interviewer Kee MacFarlane; instead, MacFarlane was called as a defense witness.
Jury deliberations after the three-month trial were described by one juror as “excruciating.” The jury ended its deliberations deadlocked on all eight counts. The jury leaned toward acquittal on six of the counts, and leaned toward conviction on only one count.
Following the mistrial, District Attorney Reiner chose not to retry Buckey a third time and all charges against him were dismissed.
The McMartin Preschool Abuse Trial was costly in many ways. In monetary terms, it cost taxpayers over $15 million dollars. For the defendants, the costs of the trial included long terms in jail (Ray Buckey spent five years in jail before being released on bail), loss of homes, loss of jobs, loss of life savings, and a stigma that might never leave. The children too were victims. Ray Buckey in a CBS interview said: “Those poor children went through hell,…but I’m not the cause of their hell and neither is my mother..The cause of their hell is the …adults who took this case and made it what it was.”


And now to explain what’s really going on here — Maurice!