WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. -- Glenda Brawley said she was stunned when she saw that the "Jane Doe" she had come to identify at the hospital emergency room was indeed her missing 15-year-old daughter Tawana.

Pulling back the white hospital sheet from her daughter's body, Brawley saw the letters "KKK" written in charcoal across Tawana's breasts and "Nigger Nigger" across her stomach. Her hair had been chopped off and covered with feces.

A black police officer, summoned after Tawana grew hysterical at the sight of two white sheriff's deputies, asked who had attacked her. The traumatized teen-ager tugged at his badge. He gave her his notebook and a pen, and on it she scrawled the words "white cop."

Since Nov. 28, the night she was found lying on a dirt road in this Hudson Valley town 80 miles north of New York City, what happened to Tawana Brawley has become the latest rallying point for black activists across the state who accuse white law enforcement officials of failing to adequately investigate crimes against blacks.

New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo (D) named Attorney General Robert Abrams yesterday as a special prosecutor. Cuomo said he agreed with Dutchess County officials that the case posed a "substantial" conflict of interest for them, but that he opposes the appointment of a permanent special prosecutor for racial attacks, as black activists have demanded.

Cuomo also noted that the family has refused to cooperate with local authorities. Their attorneys, Alton H. Maddox Jr. and C. Vernon Mason, who also represented the victims in the 1986 Howard Beach racial assault, have followed the same tactic of noncooperation that forced Cuomo to name a special prosecutor in that case.

Maddox said yesterday, during a shouting match with Cuomo on a radio call-in show, that the family will still refuse to cooperate because Abrams' office "has no track record" on civil rights cases.

Dutchess County District Attorney William V. Grady withdrew from the case last week, citing an unspecified conflict. A day later, Poughkeepsie lawyer David Sall resigned as the county's special prosecutor less than 12 hours after taking the job, saying that no local attorney could properly investigate the case.

At his Albany news conference, Cuomo said that while he did not know what happened to Tawana Brawley, "A young lady was found . . . with defecation, wrapped in a garbage bag, and one can reasonably conclude that somebody did something to her."

But many of the 6,000 people in this predominantly white town outside Poughkeepsie find it hard to believe Tawana Brawley's story that six white men -- including one that she believes was a policeman -- raped and sodomized her over a four-day period. Local investigators have not identified any suspects and no corroborating witnesses have publicly surfaced.

In an interview at her house last weekend, Glenda Brawley and her sister Juanita criticized the county sheriff and Grady's office. Rather than focusing on whether a Wappingers Falls policeman was involved, they said, local investigators focused their probe on family members and raised the possibility of child abuse.

Tawana, who was a high school cheerleader, track runner and soccer goalie, now walks with a limp and is receiving physical therapy and psychiatric counseling.

"When I walk around a lot, the leg hurts," she said. "I can't dance anymore. I was a good dancer."

"I watch her when she sleeps, there's a lot of anxiety and tension," Juanita Brawley said. "She will never sleep peacefully for the rest of her life."

Tawana limped to the living room couch to watch television when her mother and aunt began to recount the details of her ordeal. She clearly did not want to talk about the assault.

As Glenda Brawley describes it, the assault began on the night of Nov. 24, when her daughter was on her way home from visiting a friend in jail in nearby Orange County. When Tawana got off the bus from Newburgh at the stop near her house, a light-haired man with a mustache wearing a badge and a shoulder holster jumped out of a dark green car and forced her into it.

"She was screaming for the police," Glenda Brawley said, "but he hit her over the head and told her, 'Shut up stupid, I am the police.' "

Tawana was knocked unconscious and when she woke up found herself lying in a wooded area surrounded by six men, according to Glenda Brawley.

"She remembers being raped first by the guy who picked her up," Glenda Brawley said in a whisper, then paused to collect herself. "These were men, not just some young punks," she said, and they took turns sexually abusing Tawana.

"She don't remember everything, just bits and pieces," Glenda Brawley said. She said her daughter was unconscious much of the time because the assailants repeatedly hit her over the head.

Four days after the family notified police she was missing, the sheriff's office received an anonymous call about a dazed young lady behind some garden apartments in Wappingers Falls.

Tawana, in shock and suffering from hypothermia, was unable to talk for several days. When she was partially recovered, a detective interviewed her for more than three hours at the Brawley house. Tawana gave him a description of her abductor and sketchy information about the other five men, Glenda Brawley said.

Even after she described the assailants, the Brawleys said, investigators spent time asking people questions about Ralph King, Tawana's stepfather, a bus driver.

"They asked everybody we knew whether the family beat her and what kind of man Ralph was," Glenda Brawley said. "They even asked Tawana's friends whether she had crazy sex with lots of boys. They were asking questions that did not pertain to the incident."

District Attorney Grady said his office has never publicly suggested that family members were under suspicion. "There were numerous attempts to gain the confidence of the family and Miss Brawley right from the inception of the investigation," Grady said. But he said they "were not willing to cooperate and sit down and discuss the case . . . . It was a stalemate."

The family's refusal to cooperate has alienated some of the town's residents.

Frances Drace, the Wappingers Falls librarian since 1940, said the family's decision "turned a lot of people off" who were initially sympathetic. Although most residents have been tight-lipped about the case, Drace said, "It's never happened before in this town and some people refuse to believe it."

One man who steadfastly refuses to believe it is Charles McCluskey, publisher of the Hudson Valley Hornet, a "pro-American" weekly newsletter. In an editorial, McCluskey defended the investigation and called Tawana Brawley a "damned liar."

Sadie A. Tallie, executive director of the Coalition for People's Rights in nearby Newburgh, said many whites are "appalled" about the incident and have attended meetings to discuss racism.

She said a special prosecutor is needed because the assailants "may be {someone's} brother, a father, a cousin. Local people have too strong ties to do the job right."

Two days after Tawana was found, Harry Crist, a part-time police officer living here, committed suicide. Grady said the suicide is considered "an open lead."

For now, Tawana is spending her days at home and studying with tutors. She finds comfort in playing with her 2-year-old brother Tyice, who is just beginning to talk but has already learned to say "KKK."

Staff writer Howard Kurtz contributed to this report.