Wrongly convicted man spends holiday with family

November 26, 2009 3:24:32 PM PST
It is an especially thankful Thanksgiving for a man in Yonkers who was freed after spending several years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. The crime was rape. And William McCaffery was sentenced to 20 years behind bars. He had already served four when the woman he supposedly raped recanted her story and said she made the whole thing up.

Now, McCaffery is enjoying his freedom.

Thanksgiving is all about family reunions, but this one in Yonkers seemed a little more emotional than most. After missing the last four, McCaffery was finally home.

"You try to keep your hopes up," he said. "I knew I was innocent. But with the system, you know, it's a blessing."

He was 26 when he was arrested, accused of raping Biurny Peguero in a garage in Inwood. There was no DNA linking him to the crime, only her testimony that McCaffery attacked her after she left a group of girlfriends to go to a party with him.

"A lot of people don't believe you when you're innocent of rape," McCaffery said. "It's a little tough."

McCaffery was released for two reasons. Last year, a new DNA test showed Peguero's bite marks were inflicted by a female. Then in March, Peguero recanted, admitting she made up the rape story to cover up a violent encounter with her girlfriends.

For family members, it is relief and vindication. They credit a non profit group called the Exoneration Initiative with helping end their legal nightmare.

"I always have to explain it to everybody," McCaffery said. "So I have to re-live it every day. It's not like it goes away ever.

Prosecutors are weighing whether to charge Peguero with perjury. McCaffery's says he just wants to enjoy Thanksgiving, not to mention Christmas and New Years.