University didn’t wait for evidence before punishing football players
Nikki Yovino was facing six years in prison on charges of falsely reporting she was raped and “tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.”
Thanks to a last-minute plea deal, the former Sacred Heart University student will only face one, and maybe not even that long.
Connecticut Post reports that Yovino agreed to plead guilty to “two counts of second-degree falsely reporting an incident and one count of interfering with police,” all misdemeanors. Notably, the prosecutors and judge in the case are all female:
“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 told the judge.
“The important thing is that the victims are happy with the disposition,” added Assistant State’s Attorney Emily Trudeau. …
Under the plea bargain, Yovino will be sentenced Aug. 23 to three years, suspended after she serves one year in prison and followed by three years’ probation.
“You understand you will be serving one year in jail?” the judge asked her.
“Yes,” Yovino said, nodding.
The young woman will get credit for time she has already served prior to the sentencing hearing, though, so she’ll likely spend less than a year in jail.
Yovino had accused two Sacred Heart football players of taking turns raping her in a bathroom at a party, but after witnesses told police that the sex was consensual, she admitted that she invented the gang rape because she wanted sympathy from a “potential boyfriend.” Yovino’s decision to report to police rather than campus authorities likely doomed her, since colleges are much less likely to look for or act on inconsistencies in claims by accusers.
The Catholic university’s claims that it neither expelled nor stripped the players of their scholarships “because of any allegations” have been challenged by both police and the Post.
It has yet to face any reckoning for punishing the players before any adjudication, though it settled an earlier lawsuit by a local man for wrongly putting his name and photo on leaflets it distributed after a reported off-campus rape. As part of that settlement, it publicly apologized to the man.