NEW YORK, FEB. 26 -- Glenda Brawley, mother of the 16-year-old victim of a racial attack in upstate Dutchess County, came to the defense of her daughter's attorneys today after Gov. Mario M. Cuomo (D) charged that the lawyers were "making up conditions" in not allowing her daughter to cooperate with investigators.
Attorneys Alton H. Maddox Jr. and C. Vernon Mason have advised the family not to cooperate with state Attorney General Robert Abrams, named by Cuomo as a special prosecutor in the case.
The family and Abrams reached an impasse when Abrams refused demands by Maddox and Mason that he personally present evidence to a grand jury and prosecute the case if it goes to trial.
Tawana Brawley was found Nov. 28 on a dirt road in a plastic garbage bag with "KKK" and "Nigger" written on her body.
Her mother said in a telephone interview today, "My family has been supportive of our lawyers throughout the ordeal, and there is no reason for us to doubt their legal tactics now."
At an impromptu news conference in Albany today, Cuomo accused the lawyers of "making up new conditions" during negotiations. "They said they had reasons they could not cooperate . . . . It's clear now that they don't really."
Mason responded today that Cuomo is "down in the gutter" for making such suggestions.
Glenda Brawley said the family will cooperate as soon as Cuomo appoints "someone who is going to handle the case properly. Because the crime was such a horrible one, we need someone to tell the story to who will take action in my daughter's defense."
Tawana Brawley has said that six white men abducted and raped her over a four-day period and that she believes that one of the men is in law enforcement because he displayed a badge.
Glenda Brawley said that, after Abrams' appointment, "We asked Mr. Abrams to come to our house and talk to us, and no one came."
Nathan Riley, Abrams' spokesman, said Brawley's request "was not communicated to us." When the attorney general's office asked to see the family, he said, the two lawyers rebuffed the offer.
Critics of Maddox and Mason have questioned whether they are misleading the family. Glenda Brawley emphatically denied this, saying, "Everything is a joint decision. The lawyers ask us whether we agree with the direction they're taking. If we didn't agree, we would make it known to them."
Brawley declined to say whether her daughter is emotionally ready to discuss her ordeal with outsiders, even if a prosecutor acceptable to the family is named.
But she said that Tawana has provided specifics to her and her sister, Juanita, and that they have passed the information to Maddox and Mason.
Brawley said the family wants Abrams removed from the case because of a disclosure that he owns a house in Dutchess County.
"We don't want anyone who has ties to the county," Brawley said, because the family thinks one of her daughter's attackers may be a county employee.
Within days before Abrams was appointed, the Dutchess County district attorney and two local lawyers resigned from the case, citing a conflict of interest.
"We need a prosecutor who doesn't know anybody in the county," Brawley said.