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She lied about being sexually assaulted to make another guy 'sympathetic,' Conn. cops say

In this March 3, 2017 photo, Nikki Yovino, left, appears with her attorney Mark Sherman as she is arraigned in Bridgeport Superior Court, in Bridgeport, Conn.
In this March 3, 2017 photo, Nikki Yovino, left, appears with her attorney Mark Sherman as she is arraigned in Bridgeport Superior Court, in Bridgeport, Conn. /Hearst Connecticut Media via AP, Pool

A former college student accused of lying about being sexually assaulted by two of her school's football players at a party pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges and was sent to jail Tuesday, the Connecticut Post reported.

Police say Yovino, a 19-year-old former student at Sacred Heart University in Bridgeport, Conn., told them two football players sexually assaulted her in the bathroom during a college party in 2016.

“I don’t want to be in here, I don’t want to do anything,” police say she told the two men, according to the New York Post. “My friends are waiting for me outside, let me go outside.”

The two men admitted to having sex with Yovino, but insisted the encounter was consensual, according to the Associated Press.

Police say they noticed inconsistencies with her story and that she recanted the accusation after a detective interviewed her several months later.

“She admitted that she made up the allegation of sexual assault against (them) 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,” a detective said in a police affidavit obtained by 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.”

Both Yovino and the men withdrew from school, although the two men were never criminally charged, the Associated Press reported. A lawyer for one of the men told the AP one of the players lost an athletic scholarship, which Sacred Heart denied in an email to the New York Post.

“Whenever there is any kind of incident at Sacred Heart University, we go to great lengths to ensure due process for all parties involved," a spokesperson for the school told the paper.

"Her actions have seriously affected them," an attorney for the accused men told the AP. "They're no longer in school. The loss of their education and the college experience has certainly affected them greatly. And this is all because of a very serious lie."

Police arrested Yovino and charged her with second-degree false reporting of an incident and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, which is a felony, according to Fox 61. She initially rejected offers of a plea deal and the case moved to trial.

In a pre-trial hearing, Yovino said she never told law enforcement that she was sexually assaulted, only that "something happened in the bathroom at the party with these two guys, that I didn’t want to happen." Yovino's lawyer Ryan O'Neill, citing a recording of her police interview months later, also argued that she was pressured into saying she made it all up.

Jury selection for Yovino's trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday before she took a plea deal instead. In exchange for pleading guilty to three misdemeanor charges — two counts of second-degree falsely reporting an incident and one count of interfering with police —she will spend one year in jail, according to News12 Connecticut.

"This was a very difficult decision for Nikki, and a sad day for her and her family. She will now begin the process of healing and rehabilitation as she awaits her final sentence," O'Neill told the station.

The two accused men told the AP they are still considering suing Yovino.

Sexual violence is a social and public health problem in the U.S. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey says nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lives.

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