Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman has agreed to plead guilty over her role in the college admissions scandal in the US. Recent arrests outed fifty wealthy parents – including Huffman and fellow actress Lori Loughlin – who paid for their children’s exam scores to be altered, or bribed college officials to admit their children into some of the most selective universities in the country. In Huffman’s case, she reportedly paid US $15 000 (AUD $21 000) for her daughter’s college admission exam score to be increased by 400 points.
“I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney’s Office. I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions,” Huffman said in a statement.
“I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologise to them and, especially, I want to apologise 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 continued.
“My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty.”
On home soil in Australia, the federal education minister Dan Tehan has told local media there will be huge consequences for those who undertake the same risks, particularly those “essay mill” companies operating illegally. People who are paid to take exams or write essays for university students in Australia could be jailed for up to two years and heavily fined under the new laws, he said.
“If you’re a cheating service, understand now you are going to face the full force of the law if you provide those services to students here in Australia,” said Tehan. “For those services based overseas, we are going to use blocking to make sure that they cannot provide those services. For those who are here and operating in Australia, understand that we will come after you.”
“It’s not fair for those students who are doing the hard yards, for those students who are doing all the work, for those students who put hours into studying,” he continued.
Loughlin is yet to enter a plea. She was seen smiling outside court last week and signing autographs for fans. Loughlin and her husband reportedly paid US $500 000 (AUD $701 000) for their daughters to be accepted into the University of Southern California as crew coxswain. It’s widely believed both girls had never stepped foot in a row boat.
Get up to speed on the ins-and-outs of the scheme here.The arrests mark the biggest college admissions scandal in US history.
More to come.