Judge drops rape charges against William McCaffrey after accuser admits to perjury
BY Oren Yaniv
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
December 10th 2009
A deeply apologetic judge officially dropped all charges Thursday against an innocent man he sent to prison for rape.
"I want to convey to you my personal regret in having participated, though unknowingly, in the injustice committed to you," Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Richard Carruthers told William McCaffrey, calling the wrong conviction "a catastrophe both for [McCaffrey] and for the criminal justice system."
McCaffrey's accuser, Biurny Peguero, 27, took back her damning rape allegations in August and confessed to perjury.
"Given the startling turn of events, I now recant what I said about you when I sentenced you for 20 years in prison for a rape we now know you did not commit," said the judge, who had called the alleged assault "horrific" and "disgusting" when he sent McCaffrey upstate in October 2006.
"It's terrific," said McCaffrey, 32, who has been out on bail since September. "I'm just glad it's over. I've been waiting for this for a long time."
The Bronx contractor's route to freedom started last year, when new DNA evidence showed that bite marks on his so-called victim came from a woman.
Earlier this year, Peguero confessed her lies to a priest and later recanted her testimony in court.
McCaffrey, whom she had met on the night of the alleged attack in September 2005, did not rape her at knifepoint as she claimed. Her injuries stemmed from a drunken brawl with a female friend.
Carruthers said he won't pass judgment on Peguero, whose perjury case is pending, but asserted the rape "did not occur."
"Mr. McCaffrey, I wish you well," the judge said before declaring the conviction vacated and the indictment dismissed.
Some in the gallery burst into applause as McCaffrey hugged lawyer Glenn Garber.
"Finally, justice was done," said Garber, founder of the Exoneration Initiative, a nonprofit focused on wrongful convictions in cases that lack DNA evidence.
McCaffrey, a father of two who owns a construction company, enjoyed a nice meal with family members after leaving court.
"He is very excited about his freedom and good fortune," Garber said.
||Truth in Justice