Stanford students file class-action lawsuit against schools in college bribery scandal

Photo: Public Domain Pictures

March 15 (UPI) — Two current Stanford University students have filed a class-action lawsuit against eight universities mentioned in a $25 million college bribery case filed by the Justice Department.

The students, Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods, are seeking more than $5 million in damages in the suit, stating that “unqualified students found their way into the admissions rolls of highly selective universities, while those students who played by the rules and did not have college-bribing parents were denied admission.”

Olsen and Woods state they both had high SAT and ACT scores and paid application fees of $80 and $85 respectively to Yale and the University of Southern California, for what they said was ultimately not a fair admissions process.

“Had [Olsen] known that the system at Yale University was warped and rigged by fraud, she would not have spent the money to apply to the school. She also did not receive what she paid for — a fair admissions consideration process,” the suit states.

They both also stated their degrees from Stanford will have less value “because prospective employers may now question whether she was admitted to the university on her own merits, versus having parents who were willing to bribe school officials.”

The USC, Stanford, UCLA, University of San Diego, The University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest, Yale and Georgetown, are listed as defendants along with Edge College and Career Network founder William Rick Singer, who is accused of helping students cheat on their SAT and ACT exams and bribing athletic administrators and coaches to admit applicants to the school as athletes.

Singer used a charity, which is also named in the suit, to transfer funds to those involved in the scam, officials said.

The suit includes “all individuals who, between 2012 and 2018, applied to UCLA, USC, USD, Stanford University, UT-Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University, Georgetown University, or Yale University, paid an admission application fee to one or more of these universities, with respect to an admission application that was rejected by the university.”USC spokesman said all of the applicants who are connected to the scheme will be denied admission and a case-by-case review will be conducted for students already enrolled.

He said the university will “make informed, appropriate decisions once those reviews have been completed. Some of these individuals may have been minors at the time of their application process.”

More than 50 people were named in the Justice Department’s suit, including Singer, athletic coaches, standardized test administrators and Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.

A U.S. magistrate released Loughlin on $1 million bond Wednesday after she appeared in federal court in relation to the largest college admissions scandal in the country’s history.

A day earlier, a federal magistrate released Huffman on a $250,000 bond. She also had to surrender her passport.

It marked the beginning of the legal process of the well-known actresses caught in what authorities dubbed Operation Varsity Blues.

Loughlin, best known for her role in the hit show Full House, and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli are accused of paying a bribe of $500,000 to get their daughters into USC on a special athletics admission as rowers.

Prosecutors said, though, there is no evidence that either ever participated in the sport. Loughlin is expected to appear in court again March 29 in Boston. She was also allowed to travel to Vancouver to continue filming a project there.

Huffman, best known for Desperate Housewives and the 2006 movie Transamerica, is accused of paying $15,000 for a college entrance exam cheating scheme that allowed her daughter to elevate her test scores to be admitted to elite colleges.

Her husband, Oscar-nominated actor William H. Macy, was not indicted in the scheme.

The cases could be more damaging to the actresses than possible fines and restitution. Computer giant HP announced that it pulled a 2017 ad featuring Loughlin and her daughter, Internet influencer Olivia Jade Giannulli, who is a freshman at USC.

“HP worked with Lori Loughlin and Olivia Jade in 2017 for a one-time product campaign,” HP said in a statement. “HP does not currently have a relationship with either of them.”

Gianulli has similar deals with Amazon, Dolce & Gabbana, Lulus, Marc JacobsBeauty, Sephora, Smashbox Beauty Cosmetics, Smile Direct Club, Too Faced Cosmetics, Boohoo, and Unilever’s TRESemmé.

The Operation Varsity Blues indictments accused 33 wealthy parents in a wide-ranging bribery scheme to get their children into high-profile schools by falsifying records, changing admission test scores and winning them unearned athletic scholarships.


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