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Former college student sentenced for making false rape claim

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A woman who police say had a sexual encounter with two college football players in Connecticut and later made false rape allegations so she wouldn’t lose a potential boyfriend was sentenced Thursday to one year in jail.

Nikki Yovino, 20, of South Setauket, New York, was sentenced Thursday in Bridgeport Superior Court. She agreed to serve the jail time when she pleaded guilty in June, just before jury selection was to begin, to misdemeanor charges of falsely reporting an incident and interfering with police.

Yovino was attending Sacred Heart University in Fairfield when she reported being raped by two school football players at an off-campus party in Bridgeport in October 2016. But police said she later admitted making up the allegations so she wouldn’t ruin a relationship with another student.

Yovino’s lawyers had said police pressured her into making a false confession. Attorney Ryan O’Neill previously said she told police the football players had sex with her against her will, but never used the terms rape or sexual assault.

The football players were never arrested, but both withdrew from the school while facing possible discipline. One of them also lost his football scholarship, according to the players’ lawyer, Frank Riccio III. Both said they had consensual sex with Yovino.

Both players remained unidentified until Thursday, when Malik St. Hilaire came forward to speak at the sentencing and confront Yovino. The Connecticut Post reported Yovino rolled her eyes and smirked as St. Hilaire talked about how the allegations affected his life.

“I went from being a college student to sitting at home being expelled with no way to clear my name,” St. Hilaire said. “I just hope she knows what she has done to me, my life will never be the same. I did nothing wrong, but everything has been altered because of this.”

Riccio also read a statement from the second player, who remains unidentified. The player wrote that the past two years have been the most difficult of his life and he suffered depression, anxiety, and embarrassment while losing his football scholarship. He said he is now saddled with $30,000 of debt.

Both players are considering suing Yovino in civil court.

Judge William Holden said he hoped Yovino would spend her jail time contemplating her actions. Prosecutor Tatiana Messina said Yovino’s crimes were a “disservice” to true sexual assault victims, who often are not believed.