The two former college football players who were falsely accused of rape by a white Long Island student have accused Sacred Heart University of violating a contract protecting the rights of students.
Dhameer Bradley and Malik St. Hilaire filed a lawsuit against the school and the false accuser, Nikki Yovino. The former athletes claim Sacred Heart breached its contract which states students “Have the right to be treated with respect, dignity and compassion by university officials and by all persons involved in disciplinary procedures.”
The suits also accused Nikki Yovino of slander, libel and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
After Yovino made the false rape allegations, both Bradley and Hilaire were forced out of the school and had their reputations tarnished.
“The action taken by Sacred Heart was a violation of the contract they have with students,” the men’s lawyer, Augustin Sevillano, told the Connecticut Post. “Women who are sexually assaulted should never be doubted but unfortunately the school rules leave a large loophole that allows for false accusations to be made.”
Yovino, 19, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree falsely reporting an incident and one count of interfering with police. She was sentenced to three years, suspended after she serves one year in prison, and followed by probation.
“We are assessing the allegations in the lawsuit and will defend it in due course,” said Yovino’s lawyer, Ryan O’Neill.
Once Yovino made allegations, both the boys were treated as guilty suspects without any consideration for their rights as students. Bradley was forced to withdraw from Sacred Heart for the fall semester of 2016 and lost his NCAA Division 1 football scholarship. St. Hilaire was academically suspended from the university, their lawyer confirmed.
He pointed out that the school’s student handbook states, “A presumption of guilt should not be made as a result of any allegations.”
“The Title IX officers are basically judge, jury and executioner; it’s an unfair process lacking in due process,” he said.
While Sevillano said his clients “didn’t want to see this woman (Yovino) crucified, they just wanted a wrong righted,” he also revealed their attitude changed when they saw her rolling her eyes during her sentencing hearing.
“Her attitude at the hearing was disgusting,” he added. “She was given so many opportunities to fix this situation but wouldn’t do it.”