On June 5, Nikki Yovino went to jail. She had maintained for the previous 20 months that she was raped by two Sacred Heart University students in the bathroom at a house party. The men she accused said it was consensual, and that’s what prosecutors and police in Bridgeport, Connecticut, believed too.
The state charged Yovino with filing a false report to law enforcement and evidence tampering, based on their allegation that she’d had a rape kit performed while lying about having been raped. Yovino, 19, faced up to six years in prison. She had pleaded not guilty, but on the morning jury selection was to begin, Yovino took a plea deal to spend a year behind bars. She was taken away in handcuffs while her mom dabbed tears from her eyes in the courtroom.
The outcome made international news. Conservatives particularly took interest. Some, like Jonathan Turley, a legal scholar who often works with congressional Republicans, questioned whether the punishment was stiff enough.
Riccio echoed this point to BuzzFeed News: “The truth of the matter is when you consider what they have lost, this sentence pales in comparison to what she put them through.”
Marybeth Sydor, a consultant who advises students accused of sexual misconduct, said even if they’re cleared of wrongdoing, the majority of her clients still want to transfer schools, and the accusations can follow them to their new campus. “It’s that first allegation that sticks,” she said.