Students File Lawsuit Against Colleges in Bribery Scandal

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
March 14, 2019 Updated: March 14, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO—In the first lawsuit to come out of the college bribery scandal, two students are suing Yale, Georgetown, Stanford and other schools entangled in the case, saying they and others were denied a fair shot at admission.

Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods, now students at Stanford, brought the class-action complaint Wednesday, March 13, in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of themselves and other applicants and asked for unspecified damages.

They argued that applicants who played by the rules were victimized when rich and famous parents paid bribes that enabled unqualified students to get into highly selective universities.

coach high five
Yale’s women’s Head Soccer Coach Rudy Meredith gives a high five to a player after making a great play in a scrimmage, in Frankfort, Ky., on Sep. 2016. (Doug Engle/Star-Banner via AP)

“Each of the universities took the students’ admission application fees while failing to take adequate steps to ensure that their admissions process was fair and free of fraud, bribery, cheating and dishonesty,” the lawsuit said.

Lori Loughlin
Lori Loughlin arrives at the 5th annual People Magazine “Ones To Watch” party in Los Angeles, on Oct. 4, 2017. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Charges were announced earlier this week against 50 people, including coaches and dozens of parents, among them TV actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Prosecutors said parents paid to rig standardized exams and bribed coaches to get their children designated as recruited athletes in sports they didn’t even play, thereby boosting their chances of getting in.

Lori and daughters
Actress Lori Loughlin, center, poses with her daughters Bella, left, and Olivia Jade at the Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles, on Aug. 13, 2017. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
Felicity Huffman
Actress Felicity Huffman walks towards the door in the lobby of a Los Angeles court after she is released on a $250,000 bond. Huffman is among 50 people charged in a scheme in which wealthy parents allegedly bribed college coaches and other insiders to get their children into some of the nation’s most selective schools. March 12, 2019. (Rick Taber/AP Photo)

The colleges have cast themselves as victims and have moved to distance themselves from the coaches, firing or suspending them.

One of the institutions named in the lawsuit, the University of Texas at Austin, issued a statement saying that it is “outraged” over the scheme and that any wrongdoing at the school does not reflect its admissions practices and was carried out by “one UT employee.”

The two plaintiffs said they were denied a fair opportunity at Yale and the University of Southern California. The lawsuit also named the University of California at Los Angeles, Wake Forest University, and the University of San Diego.

Messages seeking comment from Olsen and Woods were not immediately returned.

Among other claims, the lawsuit said that the universities should have discovered the bribes and that their failure to do so through audits or other practices reflects “an unfair business practice.”

USC officials said earlier this week that prosecutors believe that the alleged perpetrators “went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university.” Yale, likewise, said it was “the victim of a crime.”

The Associated Press
The Associated Press