A Superior Court judge in Connecticut ruled that recordings and written witness statements must be made publicly available from a high-profile false rape case.
Judge Daniel Klau ruled last week that the recordings and witness statements in the case of Nikki Yovino should be released to the public, but added that the state Freedom of Information Commission should consider whether a recording of Yovino having sex with the two men she falsely accused of rape violates laws against voyeurism, the Connecticut Post reported.
The records were requested by the San Francisco-based Center for Investigative Reporting’s public radio show “Reveal.” Alexa Millinger, the lawyer for the Center, told the Post that she was “pleased with Judge Klau’s decision and his thoughtful interpretation of the Freedom of Information Act.”
“In particular, his comment that the requested records, which were all evidence in the prosecution of a crime, were clearly in the public interest was a significant First Amendment win,” she continued.
The city of Bridgeport sought to keep the records private, claiming that releasing the evidence would publicly embarrass the two falsely accused men and cause them psychological hardship.
“The commission’s findings ordering disclosure of videotaped and audio-taped interviews with witnesses could result in witness trepidation or refusal to cooperate with law enforcement potentially putting witnesses and their families at risk,” the city said in its lawsuit to keep the recordings from being publicly released.
Judge Klau, however, ruled that because “the witness recordings in this case formed the basis of the arrest and conviction of a college student for falsely reporting a sexual assault, the public interest in the disclosure of the recordings seem obvious to this court.”
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Yovino told police on October 15, 2016, that she had attended a football club party at a house near the university. She claimed two men pulled her into a bathroom in the basement and sexually assaulted her.
“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,” Yovino told police she said to the men.
Both football players admitted they had sex with Yovino, but said it was consensual. A witness testified that Yovino said she wanted to have sex with the athletes. Police detectives all noted “inconsistencies in [Yovino’s] original statement.”
As Yovino’s story began to unravel, she admitted to making up the sexual assault claim three months later. She said she did so to avoid losing a male friend she considered 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 for Yovino stated. “She stated that she believed when (the other male student) heard the allegation it would make him angry and sympathetic to her.”
In October 2018, the two men Yovino falsely accused sued her and Sacred Heart University, where the three attended. The two men claimed they were suspended from the football team after the accusations, which turned out to be false, and say their scholarships were revoked (the school disputes this claim).
In August 2020, Superior Court Judge Tracy Lee Dayton denied Yovino’s request to cut her probation in half, citing the fact that Yovino previously agreed to the plea bargain that spared her a much longer jail sentence during her 2018 trial. Yovino faced six years in prison after she admitted to falsely accusing the two football players. Thanks to a last-minute plea deal, however, Yovino spent less than a year in prison followed by three years of probation, which she is more than halfway through.