Is one year of prison enough punishment for a false rape accusation?

Aside from murder, rape is easily one of the worst crimes that a human can commit. I'm sure most of you won't disagree with that statement, right?  Rape, much like murder, typically comes with some pretty harsh prison time if you're found guilty of the crime.  Prisons were literally built to protect us from the type of people who commit these crimes.   But what should the punishment be for those who falsely accuse someone of rape (or murder)?  Should the sentence for a false accusation be as severe as the punishment for the initial crime? 

Take a look at this recent news story before you answer that question.

Back in October of 2016, a 19-yr-old female college student from Long Island, New York named Nikki Yovino wanted to impress a boy. She had a male friend who she felt close to, and she wanted to convince him to be her boyfriend.  So to earn his sympathy, she told a lie - she made up a story about two football players from her school, Sacred Heart University, forcibly raping her. She claimed they both took turns with her in the bathroom at an off-campus party.

As it turns out, something salacious did occur that fateful night back in 2016 - it just wasn't rape.  According to police, the woman first claimed she was raped by two male students but later on she confessed they had consensual sex. She essentially admitted to authorities that she lied about the two football players raping her to earn sympathy from the other male friend who she wanted to be with romantically. Now Yovino has been found guilty of falsely making rape accusations and, after making a plea deal, she's being sent to prison in Connecticut for one year.  For one single year she can't go to off-campus parties or try to seduce her male students (by lying to them) because she'll be locked in a concrete cell. She belongs in prison - after all, this is someone who tried to strip not one, but two innocent people of their freedom. 

But is one year enough of a punishment for this sort of crime? This incident occurred in Connecticut where the laws regarding sexual assault and rape can result in a very extreme punishment if found guilty. For example, the crime of a class A felony sexual assault can mean as much as 25 years in prison. That's two and a half decades of your life that you never get back because, hypothetically speaking, someone lied about rape in order to impress a college boy.

.I'm sure most of you know where I'm going with this - I think Yovino is getting off easy. The punishment for false rape accusations should be almost as severe as rape itself. After all, we all agree rape is a horrible and tragic crime that subjects a victim to a traumatic experience for an extended period of time, right? Exactly how long that experience lasts for depends on each specific rape incident, but the traumatic event could go on for at least a few minutes (or even hours), right? No person deserves to be raped.  But what about being sent to prison when you're innocent? Imagine spending years (not minutes) in a horribly uncomfortable and degrading place. Imagine you now live full time in an environment where you've become vulnerable to violence and sexual assault from your fellow inmates (which is not an uncommon occurrence in places like state and federal prisons).

Is someone who sends an innocent person to that kind of environment somehow 1/20th as bad for society as someone who actually commits rape? Think about it: one year (the amount of time Yovino received) is 1/20th of a twenty year prison sentence (the maximum prison time for someone who actually committed rape). Is that fair? No, it's really not. 

Here's a case from 15 years ago where a woman accused a man of rape.  She was required to pay $2.6 million in restitution to him because his ass sat in jail for five years.  That's a situation where she should be sitting in jail for 5 years.  She took away this man's life.

There are very few crimes in this country that I personally don't think come with a harsh enough punishment.  For the most part, our laws regarding drugs and similar non-violent crimes are far too draconian for a free society.  One of the only exceptions I make is for those who falsely accuse others of serious crimes - the punishment for this sort of thing should be much more severe. 

But what do y'all think? Am I out of line or spot on with my analysis?


Ken Webster Jr is a radio personality and producer from Houston, Tx.

Photo by Getty images

The Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happiness

Ken Webster Jr is a talk radio personality and producer from Houston, TX. He started his career in Chicago on the Mancow show and has since worked at dozens of radio stations all over the country. He’s currently the host of Pursuit of Happiness... Read more


Content Goes Here