Twenty-six plaintiffs have filed a proposed class action lawsuit against William “Rick” Singer; his companies, the Key Worldwide Foundation and the Edge College & Career Network; and eight major universities over the fraudulent college admissions scandal blown wide open by Operation Varsity Blues.
Not thefirst lawsuitfiled over thescandal, the 96-page case out of California’s Northern District kicks off by describing the multi-pronged scheme through which high schoolers with underwhelming test scores and lackluster credentials found their way into some of the country’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning. The suit breaks the scheme out by way of the three groups at the controls: parents of underperforming children looking to get their kids into top-tier universities; Singer, whose college admissions company and charitable foundation accepted parents’ money and who the case says raked in millions through “fraud and bribery”; and individuals scattered within the college admissions pipeline who the suit claims were “willing to accept brides and thereby taint the college admission process.”
Some involved in the scheme went the standardized test cheating route, the suit says, by whichparents would pay Mark Riddell, director of college entrance exam prep school IMG Academy, to take their child’s entrance test. Other parents, the lawsuit continues, went the route of having Singer create a false athletic profile for their child to make it seem as though the child was an advanced athlete in order to obtain a college scholarship. After an athletic profile was made, Singer left it up to others in the admissions pipeline to do the rest, the lawsuit says:
“Then Singer would offer significant, hefty bribes to employees of the universities— typically coaches or managers in the school’s athletic department. Under college admission practices, university admissions programs would set aside a certain number of ‘slots’ for admission of students who excelled in certain sports. Excelling in sports was a known, objective criterion applied by the universities. The bribed university officials would then bypass otherwise qualified student candidates and instead insert into those athletic admissions slots applicants [who] did not qualify as persons excelling in sports.”
The plaintiffs, some of whom are the parents of students rejected from the defendant universities—the University of Southern California, the University of California, Stanford University, the University of San Diego, the University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University, Yale and Georgetown University—allege they paid anywhere from $55 to $100 per application with the belief that they’d receive fair consideration and a fair merit-based application process in which they’d be subject to the same criteria as other applicants. The universities themselves, the plaintiffs allege, were negligent in failing to have adequate protocols in place to ensure the sanctity of the college admissions process, as well as to ensure their own employees stayed clear of bribery.
A number of arrests have been made since the scandal first broke back in March 2019, and more than 50 individuals—parents, test administrators, coaches and Singer himself—have been charged by Massachusetts federal prosecutors. A complete rundown of who’s been charged and the nature of their charges can be foundhere.