Admittedly False Testimony Leaves Innocent Man in Prison
13 July 2009
A New York Times article reveals that William McCaffrey, who spent four years of a 20 year sentence for raping a woman, was falsely convicted. The accuser, Biurny Peguero Gonzalez, admitted to a priest and then later her lawyer that she had lied. Despite recanting her testimony to the DA, McCaffrey remained in jail and his attorney has asked for him to be released.
I personally find it astonishing that the attorney has had to ask for his client to be released when they key witness admitted to lying. Shouldn’t the U.S. legal system give more protection to innocent people, especially those who were wrongly imprisoned?
What I find worse about the case is that Gonzalez’s lawyer will not allow her to testify that McCaffrey is innocent without immunity for Gonzalez. Although one of the main pieces of evidence will be gone, thus giving McCaffrey an increased chance of winning if the case gets brought to court again, to deny an innocent man help getting his name cleared when you know he is innocent is a terrible thing. Despite seemingly good intentions from the lawyer (he doesn’t want her baby born in prison), if she gets charged and convicted, she deserves it. Gonzalez lied to her friends, nurses, the police, and to a jury. She could have stopped at any time, but instead she choose to continue her lie and even single out McCaffrey. She did not have to go to the hospital (where they found no physical evidence except for a bite mark), or contact the police, or press charges. Lying to her friends is one thing, but to continue the lie was unnecessary. Gonzalez knowingly broke the law by lying because her friends were mad at her, which resulted in her ruining an innocent man’s life. To say that she should be exempt from the law because she is pregnant seems absurd. Although the idea that a child MAY be born in prison is horrible, is it right to say that a person should not face the consequences of her actions because she is pregnant?
I feel that this is a problem with society: the idea that you need to avoid consequences even if it is at the expense of someone who did nothing wrong. This case is just one example of a person trying to avoid her responsibility. As a society have we really become so callous towards other people and self-centered that we do not care how our actions affect others?