U.S. college admissions scandal sparks $500 billion lawsuit

Entertainment

(Reuters) – The U.S. college admissions scandal that erupted this week has triggered private litigation accusing rich, well-connected parents of buying spots for their children at prestigious schools, and keeping children of less wealthy parents out.

A person walks by the Trojan Shrine at University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

A $500 billion civil lawsuit filed by a parent on Wednesday in San Francisco accused 45 defendants of defrauding and inflicting emotional distress on everyone whose “rights to a fair chance at entrance to college” were stolen through their alleged conspiracy.

In the largest known college admissions scandal in U.S. history, federal prosecutors on Tuesday said a California company made about $25 million by charging parents to secure spots for their children in elite schools, including Georgetown, Stanford and Yale, by cheating the admissions process.

Jennifer Kay Toy, a former teacher in Oakland, California, said she believed her son Joshua was not admitted to some colleges, despite his 4.2 grade point average, because wealthy parents thought it was “ok to lie, cheat, steal and bribe their children’s way into a good college.”

Toy did not say if any colleges admitted her only child, or where Joshua might have won admission but for any chicanery.

Her complaint was filed in California Superior Court. Toy’s lawyer did not immediately respond on Thursday to a request for comment.

Fifty people, including 33 parents and many athletic coaches, were criminally charged in the scandal, which is being overseen by prosecutors in Boston.

Among the 50 were the actress Felicity Huffman, actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli, and TPG private equity partner William McGlashan Jr.

They are among the defendants in Toy’s lawsuit, as is William Singer, the accused mastermind of the scheme.

Prosecutors said Singer since 2011 used his Edge College & Career Network and an affiliated nonprofit to help prospective students cheat on college admission tests and bribe coaches to inflate their athletic credentials.

Singer pleaded guilty on Tuesday to racketeering charges.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Susan Thomas

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