SAN FRANCISCO, CA — A lawsuit filed by two Stanford students seeks class-action status on behalf of all students who applied to elite colleges implicated in the massive college admissions cheating scam. It alleges honest students were robbed of opportunity by parents, coaches and administrators willing to cheat and use bribery to steal college admissions belonging to more worthy students.
The lawsuit alleges honest students trusted admissions procedures that allegedly turned out to be an “unfair, rigged process.” The suit was filed Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco by attorneys for Stanford students Erica Olsen and Kalea Wood
A UCLA spokesman said the university is aware of the lawsuit and does not comment on pending litigation. There was no immediate response from USC. The complaint seeks at least $5 million on behalf of what could be thousands of plaintiffs.
In the lawsuit, Olsen shares her story. She applied Yale University with a “stellar standardized test score, and a glowing profile that included being a talented athlete and dancer.”
“Had she 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,” the lawsuit states. “She also did not receive what she paid for — a fair admissions consideration process.”
Also named in the lawsuit as defendants are Stanford, University of San Diego, University of Texas, Wake Forest University, Yale University, and Georgetown University. Newport Beach businessman William “Rick” Singer, the admitted ringleader of the scheme, is also named as a defendant.
Singer pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering and money laundering on Tuesday. A total of 50 people, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, were charged for their alleged involvement in the conspiracy. Loughlin’s arrest Wednesday came amid the continued fallout of the scandal, which casts a shadow over the meritocracy of America’s elite universities and rained humiliation down on the rich and famous families ensnared in the scam.
The cheating probe, which was dubbed Varsity Blues and was announced Tuesday by federal prosecutors in Boston, has led to the indictments wealthy parents, college athletics coaches and administrators. It forced elite universities to examine the legitimacy of some of their admissions while distancing their institutions from the coaches accused of accepting bribes to help get the underqualified children of the wealthy backdoor admissions.
Several coaches at local universities were arrested in connection with the alleged $25 million scam. Prosecutors said wealthy parents would pay thousands of dollars to get their children admitted to prestigious universities by passing them off as recruited athletes — regardless of their athletic ability — or by helping them cheat on college entrance exams.
In some cases, the ruse of fake athletic recruiting included the use of staged or faked photos of the students posing with athletic equipment or appearing to compete in sports they did not actually play, prosecutors allege.
The alleged conspiracy led to arrests Tuesday by federal agents in multiple states. Athletic coaches from USC, UCLA, Yale, Stanford, Wake Forest and Georgetown, among others, were implicated, as well as parents and entrance- exam administrators.
There was no indication that the schools themselves were involved in the scheme.
USC announced Tuesday that two of its employees implicated in the scandal —water polo coach Jovan Vavic and senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel — had been fired. UCLA soccer coach Jorge Salcedo was placed on leave.
City News Service and Patch Staffer Paige Austin contributed to this report.
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