Saying "I am not a liar and I am not crazy," a black teenager who said she was abducted and raped by whites rejected the reported conclusion of a grand jury that she fabricated her harrowing tale.
"I have not deceived my advisers, my family and most of all, my people," Tawana Brawley said at a news conference Wednesday in her first public comment on the case, which sparked allegations of a racially motivated cover-up.After she read her statement, Miss Brawley, 16, declined to answer questions about November's incident.
"I am not a liar and I am not crazy. I just want justice and I then want to be left alone," said Brawley, who recently moved with her mother from Wappingers Falls, N.Y., to Virginia Beach, Va.
Although poised as she gave the five-minute statement, her voice began to quaver toward the end.
"I will give full testimony to an impartial grand jury - an impartial grand jury - or a congressional committee," said Brawley, who so far has refused to testify.
"I wish to thank God for saving my life," she said of the incident. "He holds my hand and He let me live to stop the cover-up once and for all."
Earlier Wednesday, her advisers - the Rev. Al Sharpton and lawyers Alton Maddox and C. Vernon Mason - asserted that New York state Attorney General Robert Abrams and New York Gov. Mario Cuomo had illegally leaked the grand jury findings to The New York Times, which published the panel's conclusions Tuesday.
During an interview on WLIB, a black-oriented radio station in New York City, Sharpton said the three black activists would lead a protest in Brooklyn Thursday afternoon to "make the whole city stand still."
At the news conference, Sharpton challenged the grand jury and the Times to "give us one name of one witness that can establish that this was a hoax."
Mason challenged Abrams and U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani of New York to "debate the racist system."
In a statement, Giuliani said: "These people have proven by their irresponsible words and actions that they cannot be taken seriously. It would be inappropriate to dignify anything they say with a response."