In 2017, “Desperate Housewives” star, Felicity Huffman, paid a consultant to inflate her daughter’s SAT score and got her daughter double the allotted time to take the test. The consultant, William “Rick” Singer, was paid nearly $15,000 to do so.
At 6 a.m. March 12, 2018, six FBI agents arrested Huffman from her house and took her to a detention center in downtown Los Angeles, where she was then processed by federal marshals.
She, along with 50 other parents, and fellow actress Lori Loughlin, were charged on March 18 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts. Huffman was charged with fabricating SAT scores, conspiring to commit mail fraud, and lying about her daughter’s ability.
Almost immediately after the media caught wind of it, the story spread like a wildfire. Along with traditional media coverage, videos and memes about the scandal began circulating around social media sites, allowing for the story to be seen by a much wider age group.
And like all significant celebrity scandals, the internet had a variety of reactions, ranging from anger and frustration to finding humor. Memes mocking Huffman and Loughlin appeared all over social media, the most popular ones called Huffman a “Desperate Housewife” and her husband, William H. Macy, “shameless”.
Contrary to the humor most people found in the situation though, the incident had some students questioning their own application process, as well as their peers’.
When asked about his initial reaction to the scandal, senior Bryce Nicely stated, “Honestly? I thought it was pretty messed up that people with money can get into colleges [that] they aren’t even smart enough to get into and taking away from the people that deserve it. Like, that’s so pathetic.” He then elaborated further, “It’s unfair to the other students that had to work hard and study to get in. They probably got overlooked because of it.”
Senior Charlie Kirk had a similar reaction, “I think it was ridiculous and completely unfair to the people who [could] actually get in.” Kirk added, “Actually, I thought it was funny at first. I just thought it was some drama going around on Twitter, but the more I learned, the more annoyed I got with the whole thing.”
Huffman’s daughter was unaware of her mother’s scheme to get her into college and since it had been revealed, many have said their relationship is tarnished.
Nicely said, “Obviously she wanted what’s best for her daughters, but she went about it in the wrong way.”
Nicely commented further by saying that if his parents had bribed his way into a college that he would be “upset but understanding, that they did what they did to help me, even if it was wrong.”
However, fellow senior Charlie Kirk said, “If my parents had gone behind my back, I would be really angry and disappointed.”
But the SAT scores weren’t the only thing that were modified by meddling parents. Loughlin, along with paying for the inflated scores, e-mailed fake action photos of her eldest daughters participating in crew, although neither of them had ever partaken in the sport. This resulted in her daughters being falsely recruited as coxswains at University of Southern California.
Another senior, a student athlete who chose to remain anonymous, also commented,
“At first, I was entertained by it because it seemed like another standard celebrity scandal and I followed it on Instagram, drama channels on YouTube and gossip sites, but then I actually thought about it and realized how bad it really was. Their actions could have kept someone like me from getting on the team.”
Since the discovery of her involvement, Loughlin has been preparing to face the criminal charges head on. She and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, have pleaded not guilty to these charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. The charges held against them are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Contrary to Loughlin, Huffman, after formally pleading guilty in court, was sentenced to 14 days in prison and fined nearly $20,000.
The anonymous student athlete this said about Huffman’s sentencing, “She didn’t get much jail time, and I think she should’ve gotten more, but I’m not really worried about all that. I think the public shame and humiliation is much worse than the time they’re in jail. I do agree with the amount she was fined though. She should give the amount of money she paid to a scholarship.”
And humiliation is right, since the scandal has come to light, Hallmark and Netflix have cut ties with both actresses and brands have distanced themselves from both parties.
But where is Huffman’s husband in all of this? He is listed in the affidavit only as “Spouse” and most people believe that he had much more involvement.
The anonymous athlete said, “That doesn’t seem right because it’s hard to believe that her husband didn’t know about it, he should’ve gotten some jail time too.”
Kirk sighed in agreement, “It’s not fair, people who had any involvement at all should’ve been tried too.” He expanded, “if they were aware of it, they should’ve taken some of blame too.”
In agreement with Kirk, Nicely says, “I’m not sure why he wasn’t charged, its’ not likely that her husband didn’t know. I bet he was definitely responsible for a big part of it.”
Since the verdict, most people think the consequences both women are facing will serve as a warning to other parents who may have been considering doing the same.
“I hope it will be a warning, but my guess is people with that much money will always tend to think that they are above it all,” says Kirk.
There is no evidence suggesting that Huffman’s daughter, Sophia Grace Macy, knew about her mother’s intentions, but if Macy had known, she would’ve only been prohibited from taking the exam for six months. Since Huffman’s sentencing and Loughlin’s most recent hearing, both Huffman’s daughters have been permitted to retake the SAT exams.