The college admissions scandal includes a group of defendants that are a Hollywood casting director’s dream. These famous folks include defendant Felicity Huffman and her unindicted husband William H. Macy as well as defendant Lori Loughlin and her indicted husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli. A question that is floating around the United States Courthouse in Boston, where the case is being prosecuted, is will some or all of the students at the heart of the college admissions scandal face prosecution?
Federal investigators dubbed the college admissions scandal Operation Varsity Blues. Wealthy parents, including actors, sports figures, and corporate CEOs, paid significant sums of money to gain college admissions for offspring that otherwise would not have been able to obtain entrance into certain colleges and universities. Money was spent on direct bribes to school officials, to facilitating cheating on college entrance examinations, and for the creation of fake student resumes and transcripts.
The Position of the U.S. Attorney Regarding Prosecuting Students
33 parents have been charged with crimes associated with the college admissions scandal. The U.S. Attorney has made it clear that he has not made a decision as to whether he will seek indictments against the students who benefited from their parents’ alleged criminal misconduct, according to CNN and other media outlets.
Legal Considerations Regarding Seeking Indictments Against Students
The question of whether students who benefited from the admissions scandal will be indicted is not an easy one to parse. As mentioned, the U.S. Attorney has not been definitive on what he will do in the case. There are a variety of factors that come into play.
First and foremost, the crimes for which the students associated with the college admissions scandal all require that they possess actual knowledge of the criminal activity in order to be prosecuted. If actual knowledge can be demonstrated, the door opens up for the possibility of prosecution.
In the case of actor Lori Loughlin and her husband, clothing designer Mossimo Giannulli, the allegation is the parents paid $500,000 to present their two daughters as excelling at rowing crew. Neither daughter rowed crew. Both daughters would know the fake crew resume resulted in their admission to the University of Southern California. In other words, they would have actual knowledge of the criminal activity, at least to some degree.
Second, the age of the students comes into questions. Odds are that most of the students were underage when their parents were involved in the criminal activity. Being underage at the time of the criminality, odds are the U.S. Attorney will not seek to indict the students. With that said, if the students became aware of the criminal activities of their parents as adults and while in school, the U.S. Attorney might take another look at the possibility of prosecuting the students.
The reality is that the likelihood of the students being prosecuted overall is probably not that significant. A fraction of the students may draw closer attention from the U.S. Attorney in this regard.
When it comes to adverse consequences that the students might face, that is more likely to come from the colleges and universities they attend. For example, the possibility exists that some students might be expelled from the schools they attend as a result of the college admission scandal.