The U.S. college admissions scandal that erupted this week has triggered private litigation accusing rich, well-connected parents of buying spots for their children at prestigious schools, and keeping children of less wealthy parents out.
A $500-billion US civil lawsuit filed by a parent on Wednesday in San Francisco accused 45 defendants of defrauding and inflicting emotional distress on everyone whose “rights to a fair chance at entrance to college” were stolen through their alleged conspiracy.
In the largest known college admissions scandal in U.S. history, federal prosecutors on Tuesday said a California company made about $25 million by charging parents to secure spots for their children at elite schools, including Georgetown, Stanford and Yale, by cheating the admissions process.
Jennifer Kay Toy, a former teacher in Oakland, Calif., said she believed her son Joshua was not admitted to some colleges, despite his 4.2 grade point average, because wealthy parents thought it was “OK to lie, cheat, steal and bribe their children’s way into a good college.”
Toy did not say if any colleges admitted her only child, or where Joshua might have won admission but for any chicanery.
Her complaint was filed in California Superior Court. Toy’s lawyer did not immediately respond on Thursday to a request for comment.
Fifty people, including 33 parents and many athletic coaches and business executives, were criminally charged in the scandal, which is being overseen by prosecutors in Boston.
Celebrities accused of participating
Among the 50 are the actress Felicity Huffman, actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli, and TPG private equity partner William McGlashan Jr. Huffman’s husband, actor William H. Macy, has not been charged.
The three who were charged are among the defendants in Toy’s lawsuit, as is William Singer, the accused mastermind of the scheme.
Prosecutors said Singer, since 2011, used his Edge College & Career Network and an affiliated nonprofit to help prospective students cheat on college admission tests and bribe coaches to inflate their athletic credentials.
Singer pleaded guilty on Tuesday to racketeering charges.
Also on Wednesday, several college students filed a lawsuit against Yale, Georgetown, Stanford and other schools involved in the case, saying they and others were denied a fair shot at admission.
Yale says it’s ‘the victim of a crime’
The plaintiffs brought the class-action complaint Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of themselves and other applicants and asked for unspecified damages.
“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.
One of the institutions being sued, the University of Texas at Austin, issued a statement saying that it is “outraged” over the bribery scheme and that any wrongdoing at the school does not reflect its admissions practices and was carried out by “one UT employee.”
Other schools named in the lawsuit were the University of Southern California, the University of California at Los Angeles, Wake Forest University and the University of San Diego.
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 perpetrators “went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university.”
Yale, likewise, said it was “the victim of a crime.”
This story originally appeared on CBC