A Long Island woman accused of making false rape allegations against two Sacred Heart University football players pleaded guilty to lying to police Tuesday and is now headed to jail.
Nikki Yovino, 19, confessed to making up the allegations in a twisted scheme to gain the sympathy of another man she was hoping to date, the Connecticut Post reported. Rather than let the case go to trial, Yovino accepted a plea bargain that allows her to serve one year in jail followed by three years probation.
She’ll be formally sentenced on Aug. 23, according to the newspaper.
“We were prepared to go to trial on the original felony charge,” Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Tatiana Messina told the judge. “…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.”
Last year, Yovino, a former student at the university, accused two football players of raping her in a bathroom during an off-campus party. The unnamed players acknowledged having sex with the young woman but insisted it was consensual.
During their investigation, police found inconsistencies in Yovino’s claims, after which she confessed that the incident “never happened.” She was later charged with second-degree false reporting and tampering with physical evidence.
“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 read.
“She stated that she believed when [the other male student] heard the allegation it would make him angry and sympathetic to her,” it continued.
Last month, Yovino tried to change her story, saying she never explicitly told police she was sexually assaulted. She said she instead told officers “something happened in the bathroom at the party with these two guys, that I didn’t want to happen.”
Frank Riccio II, a lawyer for the two former football players, said both are mulling taking legal action against Yovino.
“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 told the Connecticut Post.