Lily Koller ‘20, Photo Editor
On Mar. 12, 2019, the largest college bribery scandal was brought to the public’s eye. Wealthy, elite parents were paying to have their children’s test scores altered, and also bribing sports teams to assign their children fake positions which could be used as a golden ticket into top-choice universities. These parents wanted their children to stand out to college admissions boards so they would have a definite chance of getting into college. The conspiracy was dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues” because of the athletic nature of the chain of events.
For 33 parents of the 51 indicted, the scandal surrounds William Rick Singer, the CEO of The Key. Though it was stated as a college counseling service, this business was really used as a front to collect over 25 million dollars between 2011-2018 to bribe college officials and alter test scores. Singer pleaded guilty to four counts of bribery and is currently serving jail time with a maximum sentence of 65 years.
The two main faces of the scandal are actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Felicity Huffman paid $15,000 to Singer to alter her daughters’ incorrect answers on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) to improve her score. Huffman stated,“I broke the law. I have admitted that, and I pleaded guilty to this crime. There are no excuses or justifications for my actions. Period.” After paying a $30,000 fine for her crime, Huffman was also sentenced to two weeks at the Dublin Correctional Facility in California and has just recently finished her sentence. She now has to tend to 250 hours of community service, as mandated by the jury.
Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, founder of Mossimo Clothing Company, were both accused of paying $500,000 to Singer to make their daughters recruits for the rowing team to ensure their admission into University of Southern California. Unlike Huffman, Loughlin and her husband have not taken any plea deals and are continuing to plead not guilty. Since they are upholding their innocence, Loughlin could face up to 50 years in jail. When discussing the scandal, senior Jessica Sanders said, “I’m satisfied with the fact that this is not being overlooked. I feel like too often, celebrities are able to take the easy way out, and I find it interesting that she is still facing charges.” Even further, ever since being accused of bribery, The Hallmark Channel has cut ties with Loughlin.
While some have pleaded guilty, others are standing by their claims of innocence. The Varsity Blues scandal has highlighted a flaw in the college admissions system. Students who could have been accepted into institutions based on merit have been rejected because of bribery and false claims. The next status conference for Loughlin is Jan. 17, 2020, which will determine whether or not this case will go to trial. This case has raised worldwide awareness of false college candidates and has, consequently, helped correct these wrongdoings within the admissions system.
Photo courtesy of CNN