Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New York Times: Woman pleads guilty to rape lie that imprisoned innocent man for four years

Woman Who Made False Rape Charge Is Guilty of Perjury

A woman who in 2005 falsely accused a man of rape, leading to his wrongful conviction and imprisonment, pleaded guilty on Monday to two counts of perjury.

The woman, Biurny Gonzalez, 27, acknowledged in State Supreme Court in Manhattan that she had falsely testified under oath before a grand jury and during a trial when she asserted that the man, William McCaffrey, had sexually assaulted her.

Mr. McCaffrey, 32, an interior contractor, was convicted of rape in 2006 and began serving a 20-year sentence. But this past spring, Ms. Gonzalez recanted, first confessing to a priest that she had lied, then telling prosecutors.

“You know that the testimony you gave was false?” Justice Charles H. Solomon asked her. “William McCaffrey did not have sexual interactions with you by forcible compulsion?”

“Yes,” Ms. Gonzalez answered.

The seeds of her false story were sown about 5 a.m. on Sept. 18, 2005, when Mr. McCaffrey approached Ms. Gonzalez — who then went by the name of her husband at the time, Peguero — and her friends outside a restaurant in Inwood.

Court papers filed by Mr. McCaffrey said that after he invited Ms. Gonzalez to an after-hours party, he got into a parked car, where she was sitting with a friend, and they drove off.

Mr. McCaffrey and Ms. Gonzalez later went to a parking garage and transferred to a friend’s van to continue to the party.

They turned back after Ms. Peguero got a barrage of cellphone calls from friends, court papers say. The attendant at the garage testified at the rape trial that some of Ms. Peguero’s friends showed up and got in her car with her, “yelling and hitting each other.” The fight was so fierce that one of the women kicked and broke a window in a car, according to court papers.

The next day, Ms. Peguero accused Mr. McCaffrey of threatening her with a knife and assaulting her. The court papers said she invented the rape to cover for the fight.

Last year, a DNA test showed that bite marks on Ms. Peguero’s arm and shoulder the morning she reported the rape could not have been made by Mr. McCaffrey — the genetic material lacked a Y chromosome, meaning that it could not have come from a man.

Mr. McCaffrey was released from prison in September. He is waiting for a judge to void his indictment and conviction, which could happen as early as this week.

Ms. Gonzalez was scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 9 and faced 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison, though Justice Solomon has the authority to impose a lesser sentence. He warned Ms. Gonzalez, who lives in Union City, N.J., with her husband and two children, that although she is a legal resident of the United States, her guilty plea could result in deportation to the Dominican Republic, where she was born.

A religious reawakening prompted Ms. Gonzalez to admit her misdeeds to a priest at St. Anthony’s parish in Union City, her lawyer, Paul F. Callan, said.

“It was very wrong what she did in the first place,” he said. “But in the end she found her way to do the right thing, the courageous thing, the just thing.”

On Monday, Ms. Gonzalez declined to discuss the case as she left the courthouse clutching the arm of her husband, Julio Mejia.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “No, not at all.”

Link:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/nyregion/08freed.html