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Monday, October 05, 2009

The Sacramental Seal

This recent story in the New York Post gave me pause.
A woman who allegedly lied about being raped in 2005 and sent an innocent man to jail could soon be facing her own trip to prison, The Post has learned.

Prosecutors are now presenting evidence against her to a Manhattan grand jury. A source said perjury charges were "likely."

They plan to call witnesses to testify that Biurny Peguero Gonzalez made up a story of having been raped at knifepoint in upper Manhattan because her pals were furious with her for leaving them.

Among the witnesses is the Rev. Zeljko Guberovic, her priest at St. Anthony's, in Union City, NJ, where Gonzalez, 26, confessed to the fabrication in March, sources said (emphasis added).

Gonzalez had accused William McCaffrey and two of his friends of gang-raping her in Inwood. He was convicted and sentenced to 20 years before being released last month
My concern is not over someone becoming a guest of the state for making a false rape charge, there's been far too much of that lately. Rather that one of the witnesses for the prosecution, if the story is correct, is a priest to whom the defendant confessed. Since when does a priest testify against one who confesses? My understanding is it is never, ever, permitted (in fact there's a corker of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, I confess, based on that very premise).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states
Given the delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to persons, the Church declares that every priest who hears confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He can make no use of knowledge that confession gives him about penitents' lives.
I am at a loss here. Is it possible the defendant confessed to the priest outside the box thus he may (or must) testify against her? That still doesn't ring true, I can't believe any priest would do it. Anybody more expert than I have an explanation?

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