Former SHU student accused of lying about rape takes plea deal

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BRIDGEPORT -

The former Sacred Heart University student accused of lying about being raped accepted a plea deal Tuesday.

Nikki Yovino's lawyer, Ryan O'Neill, says she pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts and will serve a year behind bars.

"It does deliver quite a message," says Frank Riccio, attorney for the two falsely accused men. "If you lie about these serious situations, there are serious consequences."

Jury selection was supposed to start Tuesday when Yovino accepted the deal.

O'Neill says Yovino is now in jail ahead of her formal Aug. 23 sentencing.

"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," said O'Neill.

In 2016, police say Yovino accused two Sacred Heart University football players of assaulting her at a party, but then said she made the story up. The men involved admitted to having sex with Yovino at an off-campus party but maintained she consented.

Riccio says the two men are considering a civil suit but have not made a final decision.

"Compare it against what the boys have lost," says Riccio. "Any sentence will not replace what the boys have lost."

Sexual assault advocates say they are worried this story could cast doubt on legitimate victims.

"To lie about is insane," says Etta Anderson. "If people knew what it was like, they wouldn't fake it."

Riccio says he hopes that won't happen.

"There are real victims in this world," Riccio says. "Those victims' stories don't change, hers did."

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