Thirteen of the 33 parents named in the alleged college admissions bribery scheme will appear in Boston Federal Court Wednesday. The announcement comes after an FBI investigation found that wealthy executives, celebrities and University officials had allegedly paid large sums of money to admit their students to elite universities under false pretenses.
USC is at the forefront of the scandal, as the University admitted the highest number of students through bribes exchanged with former Senior Associate Athletics Director Donna Heinel and fake athletic profiles sent to the USC Office of Admission.
The parents appearing in court are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, according to documents obtained by the Daily Trojan. They are not expected to enter plea deals Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Actress Lori Loughlin and designer Mossimo Giannulli, parents of internet personality freshman Olivia Jade and sophomore Isabella Giannulli, are scheduled to appear in court for allegedly paying nearly $500,000 for University admission. Five other USC parents are also scheduled to appear.
At Friday’s hearing for 15 other parents involved in the case, many had their passports taken unless they were used for business purposes.
At the hearing, TPG Growth founder Bill McGlashan, who talked with William “Rick” Singer — the college admissions counselor mastermind behind the alleged bribery scheme — about modifying an image of his son so that he could look like a football kicker to gain admission to USC, argued that he did not participate in the alleged scam.
According to a court memorandum obtained by the Daily Trojan, McGlashan’s case is different from those of the other parents named in the investigation because his son was diagnosed with various learning disabilities when he was in eighth grade. The memorandum stated that McGlashan didn’t pay Singer for his son to become involved in the alleged admission scheme, and since his son is still completing high school, McGlashan withdrew his son’s college admissions.
Media executive Elisabeth Kimmel was charged with bribery to have her child admitted to USC and did not enter a plea deal Friday after missing her first court appearance.
Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University, said it makes sense that defendants wouldn’t agree to plea deals until they’ve seen all the evidence from the prosecution.
Levenson said she was surprised to see that Singer was offered a plea deal because of his central role in the scandal. She also said it is necessary for people to see full transcriptions of the phone calls and conversations between Singer and the parents.
“The parents were wrong in what they did assuming they’re convicted, but the person who is sort of the predator here, the person who put this together and sort of preyed on the insecurity of these parents is Rick Singer,” Levenson said.
Levenson said first-time offenders often face probationary sentences, but also added it is possible for the defendants to face jail time. While many people believe the defendants deserve to be punished because of their high statuses, Levenson said she thinks the public’s view of the parents will change once they appear in court and have the opportunity to present their cases.
“By the time they get packaged and presented in court, what they’re going to be looking like are desperate parents,” Levenson said. “I think you will see a transformation from the initial outrage the public felt to saying, ‘There might be unfairness in the admissions process, but these people should not be the scapegoat for our general frustration.’”