In case you missed it, here’s a quick rundown on the college admissions bribery scandal:
Dozens of rich parents paid officials to admit their children with average (or less-than-average) grades into elite universities.
Prosecutors allege that some parents bribed SAT/ACT test officials to doctor their children’s test scores, bribed coaches to mark their children as sports recruits and used charities to conceal the source of bribery payments, among other allegations.
Parents charged include Felicity Huffman, a prominent actress on “Desperate Housewives,” and Lori Loughlin, best known for her role as Aunt Becky on “Full House.” These women were not the only parents charged in the college admissions bribery scandal, but their Hollywood fame has drawn public awareness to the case.
But will their fame also allow them to get off easy for fraud? It might — but it shouldn’t.
When the scandal broke, it wasn’t particularly surprising to learn that the rich and famous were paying for their children to be admitted to prestigious schools; rather, it was surprising to learn that legal action was underway.
On Monday, federal prosecutors announced that 13 parents involved in the scandal — Huffman included — will plead guilty to bribery and other fraud charges. For Huffman’s plea deal, prosecutors will recommend a paltry “$20,000 fine and 12 months of supervised release,” according to CNN. No jail time is being recommended for Huffman, but a federal judge will ultimately decide the sentence.
The question of whether Loughlin or Huffman should serve time shouldn’t depend on the size of their fanbases. It should depend on the facts: They are being charged with bribery and fraud. If these women weren’t famous, would anyone argue that they shouldn’t be sentenced?
Their Hollywood talent has no bearing on the fact that both women bribed colleges to admit their children. It’s perfectly OK to enjoy the shows they were on, of course — you don’t need to avoid watching anything starring Loughlin or Huffman. Still, it’s important to recognize the difference between the characters they play and the people they truly are.
Although I fully support Loughlin and Huffman serving jail time, it seems unlikely that it will happen. Fame should have no bearing on the judicial process, but it would be naïve to think that it won’t have any impact.
Let’s be honest: If you’re charged with a serious crime, it helps to be rich. Both of these actresses made bail, and if they can afford to pay thousands of dollars to get their children into elite schools, they can surely afford to hire some quality legal representation. Realities like these are precisely why I’m skeptical that any of the defendants in this scandal will face serious consequences. A slap on the wrist is the most plausible outcome for both Loughlin and Huffman.
Still, maybe there’s a glimmer of hope in the fact that everyone in this scandal is likely to face repercussions. After all, it’s not like anyone was expecting Aunt Becky to get arrested.