Her silence is deafening.
Twenty-five years after the spotlight first glared on Tawana Brawley -- a black woman who as a teen claimed she was raped by a gang of white men, smeared with feces and stuffed in a garbage bag -- she's desperately struggling to stay hidden from public view.
"I don't want to talk to anyone about that," Brawley, 40, said recently after The Post found her in Hopewell, Va., where she lives in a neatly kept brick apartment complex with signs warning of video surveillance cameras.
By all appearances, her life -- so chaotic a quarter-century ago -- now seems normal.
Brawley, using aliases such as Thompson and Gutierrez, now has a young daughter, a neighbor says, and works as a licensed practical nurse at The Laurels of Bon Air in Richmond, where co-workers were clueless about her past.
This makes me think it might not be the best idea to get a lot of nursing care at The Laurels.
A quarter-century ago, Brawley, then just 15, told a story incredible for its sheer brutality.
After she went missing for four days from her home in Wappingers Falls, Dutchess County, Brawley was found in a trash bag on Nov. 28, 1987, dazed, covered in feces and with the words "n----r" and "b---h" scrawled in charcoal on her body and "KKK" carved into her shoe.
Initially, Brawley said little, simply nodding or writing notes when investigators questioned her and revealing that she had been abducted by two white men in a dark car who drove her to the woods, where four other white men were waiting.
Details were in short supply. Tawana couldn't offer names or even a description of the attackers who ravaged her for four days.
Now you might think this would have sparked a degree of skepticism, but that would mean you've missed the fact that when you're transfixed by racial grievance, it's The Narrative that counts.
The shocking allegations polarized New York City -- already a powder keg of racial tension a year after a white mob attacked three black teens in Howard Beach, Queens, killing one.
The case attracted attorneys Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason, and the then-little-known Rev. Al Sharpton, who used it to catapult to the national stage.
Yup, this is how Al Sharpton got his start.
Sharpton and Brawley's lawyers claimed -- without proof -- that [white Duchess County prosecutor Steve] Pagones kidnapped, abused and raped Brawley on 33 occasions.
This is why I mentioned the "cruelty of white prosecutors." Mike Nifong was just a lead-in.
But a grand jury found in 1988 that Brawley was never raped and the whole incredible case was all a hoax.The panel, which heard from 180 witnesses over its seven-month investigation, found evidence that Brawley ran away from home and was hiding out in the vacant apartment from which her parents were just evicted and that she spun her yarn to avoid being punished for staying out late and missing school.