Bridgeport, CT – A New York woman who falsely accused two Sacred Heart University football players of raping her during a college party in 2016 has been sentenced to prison.
Nikki Yovino, 20, appeared to roll her eyes as one of her victims told the court about how her lies had caused severe negative repercussions on his life on Thursday, FOX News reported.
“I went from being a college student to sitting at home being expelled with no way to clear my name,” Malik St. Hilaire explained, while Yovino sat smirking in the courtroom, according to the New York Post.
“I just hope she knows what she has done to me, my life will never be the same,” Hilaire continued. “I did nothing wrong, but everything has been altered because of this.”
Attorney Frank Riccio read a victim’s impact statement from the second victim, who did not want to be named.
“The last almost two years have been definitely my most difficult of my life,” the second victim wrote. “The roller coaster of emotions; fear, anger, sadness, embarrassment, depression, anxiety and the list goes on.”
“She accused me of what I believe to be a horrendous, horrific crime out of her own selfish concerns,” the statement read. “I lost my scholarship, my dream of continuing to play football and now I am in debt $30,000 and I’m simply trying to get ahead as best as I can.”
The alleged incident occurred on Oct. 15, 2016, after police responded to St. Vincent’s Medical Center to investigate a report of a sexual assault, the Connecticut Post reported.
Yovino told police that she had attended a party the night before at a home in Bridgeport, and that two football players had pulled her into a basement bathroom.
“I don’t want to be in here, I don’t want to do anything,” Yovino claimed she told the men, according to police. “My friends are waiting for me outside, let me go outside.”
She alleged that the men then held her down, and took turns raping her.
Hilaire and the second man admitted they had sex with Yovino, but said she had consented.
Three months later, police questioned Yovino again at her home – but this time her story was drastically different.
“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, according to the Connecticut Post.
“She stated that she believed when [the other male student] heard the allegation it would make him angry and sympathetic to her,” the affidavit said.
But during a pre-trial hearing, Yovino recanted her admission, and again alleged that the men had forcibly raped her, the New York Post reported.
Neither of the men were ever arrested or charged with regards to Yovino’s false claims.
She later pleaded guilty to one count of interfering with police and two counts of second-degree falsely reporting an incident – all of which were misdemeanors, according to the Connecticut Post.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Tatiana Messina told the court that charging Yovino was “not an easy…decision,” FOX News reported.
“But with the evidence we had against Miss Yovino, we do believe this disposition is both fair and appropriate," Messina said.
“Many true victims of sexual assault are often disbelieved, but that is because of cases like this and the impact they have on public perceptions,” the prosecutor continued. “Miss Yovino’s actions are a disservice to those true victims, in addition to the two young men whose lives were greatly affected, and that was not something that could have been ignored.”
Superior Court Judge William Holden sentenced Yovino to three years in prison, but ordered that she serve the last two years of her sentence on probation, according to the Connecticut Post.
“I just hope you spend the time reflecting on what you did,” Holden told her during the hearing.
She will receive credit against her one-year sentence for the time she has served in jail since June, according to WABC.
Yovino’s mother, who was the only person present in the courtroom in support of her, was kicked out of the hearing after her cell phone rang, the Connecticut Post reported.
Her attorney, Ryan O’Neill, denied claims that Yovino smirked or rolled her eyes during the hearing, FOX News reported.
He told reporters that it was “a difficult day for Nikki and her family,” and claimed that her “willingness to accept [the] plea deal reflects her accountability for what happened.”
Both victims plan to file a civil suit against Yovino, FOX News reported.