Originally created 09/17/97

Cowboys' accuser pleads guilty to perjury



DALLAS (AP) - The woman who falsely accused Dallas Cowboys stars Erik Williams and Michael Irvin of sexual assault was sentenced Tuesday to 90 days in jail.

Nina Shahravan, a 24-year-old former topless dancer who recanted her accusations, apologized to the players "for putting them through the stuff that I've put them through."

Shahravan also must pay a $1,500 fine. She could have received probation or up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

"She's an arsonist watching the fire burn," said prosecutor Clark Birdsall, who sought the maximum punishment. "She's someone who throws the fire alarm to watch everybody run."

Dallas County Criminal Court-at-Law Judge Dan Wyde decided Shahravan's punishment after she pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor perjury.

Earlier, Irvin and Williams testified they believe Shahravan was persuaded to make the allegations and needs counseling.

Irvin, who was on the stand about 20 minutes, told Birdsall he thinks someone encouraged her to make up the story about his involvement in an incident that took place at Williams' house Dec. 29 when Irvin wasn't present.

Asked who would do that, he said: "I don't know."

When Williams testified, he pointed to KXAS, the Dallas-Fort Worth television station that first reported Shahravan's allegations, and the Dallas Police Department.

Williams and Irvin have sued KXAS-TV for defamation and settled for at least $2 million. They also are suing the Dallas Police Department, accusing it of violating their civil rights.

Reminded that Shahravan told the court Monday that she alone was responsible for the story, the offensive tackle said: "I don't believe that."

"I think the defendant needs help, psychological help," Williams said. "When you have a problem making up lies about somebody, I think you need help."

Said Irvin: "I think Nina do need some form of help mentally. I think she's easily persuaded."

G. David Smith, Shahravan's lawyer, praised his client.

"She has more guts than anyone involved in the Dallas Cowboys organization," Smith said. "She made a mistake ... but she corrected it. She had the ability and fortitude to correct her wrong."

Under questioning from Birdsall, Irvin said he had put the incident behind him.

"I think you well know my life over the last year and a half there have been a lot of ups and downs ... and I look at the Nina situation as one of those downs," he said.

Irvin last year pleaded no contest to cocaine possession as part of a bust that led to his five-game suspension from the NFL. He also was the target of a murder-for-hire plot that landed former Dallas officer Johnny Hernandez in prison.

"I'm the same man," Irvin said. "I'm sitting here hoping and praying ... Johnny Hernandez gets put out of jail because I honestly feel he was kind of a pawn in a big chess game and I kind of feel the same way about Nina."

Williams said the situation had more of a negative effect on his teammates and family members because he had been through it before.

In April 1994, a 17-year-old topless dancer accused Williams of sexually assaulting her at his North Dallas home. A grand jury took no action against Williams two months later after the teen-ager refused to cooperate with prosecutors following an out-of-court settlement.

"I'm upset," Williams said. "Anybody would be upset if they were falsely accused of something they did not do."