News and Commentary

College Student Who Falsely Accused Football Players Of Rape Heading To Prison

A female college student who was facing six years in prison after admitting to falsely accusing two football players of raping her has gotten off relatively easy: As the result of a last-minute plea deal, former Sacred Heart University student Nikki Yovino will only spend one year behind bars, if that. Meanwhile, both of the falsely accused men have left the school after saying they were dismissed from the team and had their scholarships revoked, which the school has disputed.

Yovino was facing up to six years in prison after being charged with second-degree falsely reporting an incident and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. The charges stem from her false claim to police in October 2016 that two student athletes raped her in a bathroom during an off-campus party, a claim she admitted was false three months later after her story fell apart.

The Connecticut Post provides some more details on her false accusation (formatting adjusted):

On Oct. 15, 2016, police were dispatched to St. Vincent’s Medical Center for a sexual assault complaint. Police said Yovino told them she had attended a Sacred Heart football club party the night before at a house at Lakeside Drive in Bridgeport.

Police said the woman claimed the two men pulled her into a bathroom in the basement of the house. “I don’t want to be in here, I don’t want to do anything. My friends are waiting for me outside, let me go outside,” police said Yovino claimed she told the men. They said she continued that they held her down and each took a turn sexually assaulting her.

Both players admitted to having sex with Yovino in the restroom, but they insisted that it was consensual. A witness also testified to hearing Yovino tell them she wanted to have sex with the two athletes. Detectives additionally noted “inconsistencies in [Yovino’s] original statement.”

Amid mounting evidence that her allegation was false, Yovino admitted to police three months later that she’d lied. Her motivation, as The College Fix points out, was similar to the motives of Jackie Coakley in the infamous University of Virginia “gang rape” story reported by Rolling Stone and ultimately debunked. Yovino told investigators that she lied about the sex being consensual so she wouldn’t lose another male friend who was a “potential boyfriend.”

“She admitted that she made up the allegation of sexual assault against (the football players) because it was the first thing that came to mind and she didn’t want to lose (another male student) as a friend and potential boyfriend,” the arrest warrant affidavit reads. “She stated that she believed when (the other male student) heard the allegation it would make him angry and sympathetic to her.”

Under the plea bargain, Yovino will be sentenced to three years that will be suspended after just one year in prison, after which she will serve three years probation. That single year in prison is also likely to be shorter because she is expected to be awarded some time served.

Meanwhile, as The College Fix notes, the two former Sacred Heart student athletes suffered the consequences of her false claim:

Though the administration previously told The College Fix the players were neither expelled nor stripped of their scholarships “because of any allegations,” the Post said a year ago they withdrew after they were “dismissed” from the team and their scholarships “revoked,” on the eve of a disciplinary hearing.

Sacred Heart is also in dispute with the detective who filed the arrest affidavit, who claims one of the two players lost a year of eligibility and his scholarship, and a source who told the Post the other player also lost his scholarship.

Related: Rolling Stone Settles With Fraternity It Smeared, Signs Seven-Figure Payday