She thought she might get off with a few Hail Marys. Instead, she got three years in prison.
The 27-year-old New Jersey woman who cried rape and put away an innocent man had no idea what coming clean would cost her when she stepped into a confessional a year ago and told her priest everything.
“She was going to confess this was her sin and that was it,” said a source familiar with the shocking recantation of Biurny Peguero Gonzalez, who on Tuesday was sentenced to one to three years in prison for falsely accusing William McCaffrey of a violent sexual assault in 2005.
McCaffrey, whom Gonzalez had accused of raping her on a deserted Inwood street, served nearly four years of a 20-year sentence. The Bronx man, now 33, was exonerated in December after Gonzalez, a mother of two, admitted concocting the tale to gain sympathy from friends.
Although Gonzalez desperately wanted McCaffrey freed, “I don’t think she felt that it was going to go beyond that confession. She just happened to pick a priest who said, ‘Oh, no, no, no . . .’ ”
The priest, the Rev. Zeljko Guberovic of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Union City, made it clear to her that her obligation didn’t end with admitting the lie.[reference]
By some reports this might also have been her first confession. A rather interesting case regarding sacramental confession in that besides confessing your sins that sometimes restitution is involved. A robber could not simply confess that he had stollen, but would need to pay back what was stolen. Though this need not be done in a public way. I remember one priest speaking on EWTN saying that in some cases he would receive the stolen money and return it to the person robbed, while of course making no mention of who the thief was. In this specific case I don’t see how restitution could be done without the person exposing herself publicly to recant her false rape charge. The inviolability of confession certainly means that the priest could never have brought this up – though it present in odd situation when the penitent brings it up and specifically mentions what when on in confession including the penance given.
It is an unusual situation when the penitent discloses the contents of a confession publicly. Though the priest is still bound to not reveal anything said in confession. Prudentially though I think it would have been better if she had not mentioned what spurned her conversion since I think this will confuse people about the nature of the priest-penitent privilege in sacramental confession. Though certainly there are no canonical penalties for her doing so.