Fourteen people, including actress Felicity Huffman, have said they’ll plead guilty in the college admissions cheating scandal, according to documents filed Monday in federal court in Boston.
All 14, including 13 parents and one coach, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Huffman, best known for her role on the ABC television series “Desperate Housewives,” released a statement Monday saying she accept full responsibility for her actions, and insisted that her daughter was unaware of what she was doing.
Huffman was arrested on March 12, 2019, with prosecutors saying she’d paid $15,000 to William “Rick” Singer, the ringleader in the college admissions cheating conspiracy, to have someone take the SAT in her daughter’s place.
The score that resulted was a shocking 400 points higher than the score Huffman’s older daughter, Sophia Macy, had earned on the PSAT, according to court documents.
The PSAT, known as the Preliminary SAT, is usually predictive of a student’s performance on the SAT.
In her statement, released Monday, Huffman said she accepts “full responsibility” for her actions and accepts the consequences of those actions.
“I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community,” she said in the statement. “I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly.”
She went on to say that her daughter didn’t know she was cheating the system.
“My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her,” she said, going on to say that her desire to help her daughter was not an excuse to break the law or “engage in dishonesty.”
But is it really possible Sophia didn’t realize that someone had taken the SAT in her place? If she didn’t take the test, how did she think she was going to be able to get into a top college or university?
According to the criminal complaint, Huffman gave a $15,000 charitable contribution to a nonprofit organization controlled by Singer called the Key Worldwide Foundation. In exchange, Singer told Huffman that he “controlled” a testing center, and could arrange for someone to make sure Sophia got a good score on the test.
Prosecutors wrote that in emails, Huffman and Singer went into much more detail about how the cheating would actually work.
Huffman and her husband, actor William H. Macy, allegedly met with Singer in their home, where he told them that he could hire someone to proctor Sophia’s SAT and correct her answers afterward.
In the summer of 2017, they exchanged emails where Singer said he could arrange for both Sophia and younger daughter Grace to get “100 percent extra time” to take the SAT.
But in the end, Singer arranged for a 36-year-old Florida man named Mark Riddell to take the test in Sophia’s place at a testing center in West Hollywood, according to court documents. From the documents, it doesn’t sound as though Sophia was in the room, or went through the test-taking process at all.
The score that resulted was 1420, which was 400 points higher than Sofia’s score on the PSAT.
The 1420 score is significantly higher than the national average of 1068, and would put the test taker in about the 95th percentile of test takers nationwide — high enough to get into a competitive or highly competitive university.
Riddell has pleaded guilty and is expected to testify against those parents whose cases go to trial.
So far, 50 people have been arrested in the scandal and more than 30 have been charged. More charges are expected as the investigation continues.
Some students have faced consequences also, with a female Stanford University student expelled last week, with the university saying she had “fabricated sailing credentials.”
No students, however, have yet been charged in the scandal.
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