Four college students filed an unfair business practices lawsuit
in federal court in San Francisco Thursday against the eight elite universities implicated in a college admissions cheating scandal.
The students, now at Stanford, Tulane and Rutgers universities and a community college, say they paid application fees but did not have a fair admissions process and were turned down by one or more of the universities.
The eight universities, which include Stanford, the University of Southern California and Yale University, are not facing criminal charges in the cases filed in federal court in Boston this week.
But the civil lawsuit claims they are liable for allegedly falsely advertising that their admissions are based on student merit and negligently failing to prevent bribery and fraud by wealthy parents, athletic coaches and admissions consultants.
The lawsuit seeks to be certified as a class action on behalf of
the thousands of applicants turned down by the highly selective universities between 2012 and 2018. It asks for reimbursementfor the application fees of $50 to $100 as well as a punitive financial award.
The lawsuit filed Thursday is an amended version of a complaint
filed Wednesday by Stanford students Kalea Woods and Erica Olsen. The amended suit does not include Olsen but adds three other students.
Woods says in the suit that while she was admitted to Stanford,
she was rejected by USC. The lawsuit alleges she “was never informed that the process of admission at USC was an unfair, rigged process, in which parents could buy their way into the university through bribery and dishonest schemes.”
If she had known that, the lawsuit contends, she would not have
spent the money to apply.
Plaintiff Tyler Bendis, now a student at a community college in
Orange County, says in the lawsuit that he had a 4.0 grade point average and was a pole vaulter on his school’s track team.
He charges that when he was turned down by University of
California Los Angeles, Stanford and the University of San Diego after paying the application fees, he and his mother “did not get what they paid for — a fair admissions process.”
The lawsuit also names the mastermind of the cheating scandal,
admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer, as a defendant.
Singer was targeted early in the FBI probe of the admissions
cheating and midway through the investigation became a cooperating witness in the fall of 2018, secretly taping follow-up phone calls with parents who had begun to work with him.
Singer pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston Tuesday to
charges including racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
In all, 50 people have been charged in the case, including Singer, people who acted as proctors in allegedly rigged tests, athletic coaches and parents.
Spokespeople for Stanford and USC were not immediately available
for comment on the lawsuit. Both universities have said they deplore the alleged cheating and are reviewing their procedures but have noted they have not been charged with criminal wrongdoing.
-Julia Cheever, Bay City News