Nikki Yovino, a Long Island woman who admitted making up a rape accusation against two Sacred Heart University football players, will be spending a year in jail as part of a plea agreement that spared her the six-year sentence she had faced.
The former Sacred Heart University student agreed to the plea deal Tuesday, the Connecticut Post reported.
Instead of the felony charges she faced, and the six-year sentence that went along with them, Yovino pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree falsely reporting an incident and one count of interfering with police. All of the charges are misdemeanors.
According to the deal, Yovino will be sentenced on Aug. 23 to three years in prison, which will be suspended after the first year, followed by three additional years of probation.
“We were prepared to go to trial on the original felony charge, but after lengthy discussions with all parties involved and considering all outside factors, this was an appropriate disposition that will hopefully set a precedent about how serious the state takes this conduct,” Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Tatiana Messina said in court.
“The important thing is that the victims are happy with the disposition,” Assistant State’s Attorney Emily Trudeau said.
Yovino, of South Setauket, New York, had originally claimed she was raped during an off-campus party in October 2016. Sacred Heart University is located in Fairfield, Connecticut. The alleged incident took place in Bridgeport.
According to the affidavit for Yovino’s arrest, she changed her story three months later when questioned by Detective Walberto Cotto Jr.
“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,” according to the affidavit. “She stated that she believed when (the other male student) heard the allegation it would make him angry and sympathetic to her.”
The two men falsely accused may sue Yovino, said Frank Riccio II, who represents them.
“While this disposition does not replace that which the boys lost, it does send a powerful message that lying about a serious incident carries serious consequences,” Riccio said.
The names of those accused of rape were never released.
Nikki Yovino’s actions “seriously affected” the two men, Riccio said.
“They’re no longer in school,” Riccio said. “The loss of their education and the college experience has certainly affected them greatly. And this is all because of a very serious lie.”
Comments in the affidavit and from the college about the fate of the men are contradictory, the Connecticut Post noted in a 2017 article.
In the affidavit, Cotto said one of the players “lost a year of NCAA sports eligibility and his Division 1 NCAA football scholarship.” The Post reported, citing a source it did not name, that the other player also lost his scholarship.
Sacred Heart University Communications Director Deb Noack said that was not so.
“Sacred Heart never expelled the two students nor was any student stripped of scholarships because of any allegations,” she said.
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