A closeup of the lock of a brick jail cell with iron bars and a key Reuters/File

A US college student has been sent to jail for one year for making false rape accusations against two men. Nikki Yovino, 19, previously pleaded guilty to two misdemeanour counts of second-degree falsely reporting an incident and one count of interfering with police.

The court heard that Yovino attended a house party being thrown by Sacred Heart University’s football team in Connecticut in October 2014. She claimed that she was sexually assaulted by two players who pulled her into a bathroom in the basement.

She told police that the men held her down and took a turn to sexually assault her even though she told them she didn’t want to be there. When police questioned the men, they admitted having sex with her but said it was consensual.

It was three months later when she admitted she made the assault up. Detective Walberto Cotto Jr questioned her again at her Long Island home, and she told him that she lied because she didn’t want to lose a potential boyfriend.

“She admitted that she made up the allegation of sexual assault against (the football players) because it was the first thing that came to mind and she didn’t want to lose (another male student) as a friend and potential boyfriend,” the arrest warrant affidavit read. “She stated that she believed when (the other male student) heard the allegation, it would make him angry and sympathetic to her.”

On Thursday, Superior Court Judge William Holden sentenced her to three years in prison, with two years suspended after she serves one year, followed by probation. She has already served three months in prison.

“I just hope you spend the time reflecting on what you did,” Holden told Yorvino (via The Hour ).

One of her victims, Malik St Hilaire, had been content to remain in the background while the case was being heard because he didn’t want to be pursued by the media. However during the sentencing, he told his lawyer that he wanted to confront Yovino.

“I went from being a college student to sitting at home being expelled, with no way to clear my name,” St Hilaire told the court. “I just hope she knows what she has done to me. My life will never be the same. I did nothing wrong, but everything has been altered because of this.”

Yovino, the publication notes, smirked while St Hilaire addressed the court with his statement.

Lawyer Frank Riccio II then read a statement from Yovino’s second victim, who remains unnamed.

“The last almost two years have been definitely my most difficult of my life,” the statement read. “The roller-coaster of emotions: fear, anger, sadness, embarrassment, depression, anxiety and the list goes on. She accused me of what I believe to be a horrendous, horrific crime out of her own selfish concerns. I lost my scholarship, my dream of continuing to play football and now I am in debt US$30,000 and I’m simply trying to get ahead as best as I can.”

Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Tatiana Messina also told the judge that Yovino’s actions were a disservice to true victims of rape.

“Many true victims of sexual assault are often disbelieved, but that is because of cases like this and the impact they have on public perceptions. Miss Yovino’s actions are a disservice to those true victims, in addition to the two young men whose lives were greatly affected, and that was not something that could have been ignored.”