Scandal 101

Alexis Guerra

Standardized tests, tutors and college decision making–what a stressful time in our lives. But what if we had the opportunity to get into our top choice stress-free? That was the reality for many highschoolers whose parents pulled a few strings for them.

On March 12, news broke about a massive nationwide college entrance exam cheating scandal. Dozens of people were charged, including “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman. The FBI referred to the scheme as Operation Varsity Blues.

[media-credit name=”oliviajade/Instagram” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Along with cheating on the SAT and ACT, parents also bribed college administrators and coaches to recruit students as athletes, according to the US Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling.

“There can be no separate college admissions system for the wealthy and I will add there will not be a separate criminal justice system either,” Lelling said. “For every student admitted through fraud, an honest, genuinely talented student was rejected.”

Awkwardly, many of the students who took their exams were unaware that their parents had made arrangements for them to cheat, according to the criminal complaint from the FBI in Boston. University athletic coaches and administrators were also bribed to designate students as athletic recruits even if they didn’t play the sport they were recruited to play. In some of these cases, photos of students were edited onto the bodies of real athletes.

The schools that accepted these students include Yale, Stanford, UCLA, Georgetown and University of Southern California.

William Singer was the head of the operation and funneled the money through a “charity” he established called the Key Worldwide Foundation, according to NBC News. He pleaded guilty on the charges of racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction of justice.

“I am absolutely responsible for it,” Singer told a federal judge in Boston. “I put everything in place. I put all the people in place and made the payments directly.”

Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were charged with paying $500,000 in bribes to get their two daughters, Youtuber Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose, into USC. They were going to be admitted as recruits for the crew team despite the fact that neither of them played the sport. The parents were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Just last week they announced that they would be pleading not guilty.

Because of the couple not taking the plea deals, they were also indicted with money laundering charges which carries a 20-year-maximum sentence on its own, according to Elle. Their minimum time behind bars would be four years and nine months, according to TMZ.

Huffman was one of the first parents to announce that she would plead guilty. She allegedly paid a Harvard graduate $15,000 to correct her daughter’s SAT exam. Huffman was released from custody after a $250,000 bond. Because of her lack of criminal history and the lower amount that she paid the Harvard graduate, Huffman could face only four to 10 months and serving that time in her home, according to the LA Times.

“I am in full acceptance of my guilt and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions,” Huffman said in a statement. “I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community.”

The universities themselves have also recently made plans in reaction to the scandal. USC plans to use any money received in connection with the scheme to fund scholarships for underprivileged students, according to CNN. Georgetown also put a new policy in place to “strengthen the recruitment and admissions process.”

Kim Kardashian is among the celebrities who have made their reaction to the scandal public. CNN news commentator Van Jones asked Kardashian if she would do the same for her kids during an interview on April 21.

“If [my kids] couldn’t get into a school, I would never want to use privilege to try to force them into a situation that they wouldn’t thrive in anyway,” Kardashian said in the interview. “I want my kids to be kind. I want my kids to be as grounded as possible. To buy your way into something just wouldn’t benefit anybody.”