Felicity Huffman Breaks Silence On Why She Took Part In The College Admissions Scandal
“It felt like I would be a bad mother if I didn’t do it.”
Felicity Huffman has given her first interview about her involvement in the “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal. Sitting down with ABC7 Eyewitness News, the Desperate Housewives actress opened up about why she took part in the 2019 scam that led to her serving 11 days in prison and how, if she didn’t, she’d be a “bad mother.”
“People assume that I went into this looking for a way to cheat the system and making proverbial criminal deals in back alleys, but that was not the case,” Huffman, who is married to actor William H. Macy, told ABC7 in the interview that aired on Thursday. “I worked with a highly recommended college counselor named Rick Singer. I worked with him for a year and trusted him implicitly; he recommended programs and tutors and he was the expert. And after a year, he started to say, ‘Your daughter is not going to get into any of the colleges that she wants to.’ And so, I believed him.”
Over 30 wealthy parents, including Huffman and Fuller House actress Lori Loughlin, were accused of paying Singer a total of more than $25 million to fudge test scores and bribe college coaches in order to get their children admitted into elite universities such as Yale, Stanford, USC, Wake Forest, and Georgetown, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. In January of this year, Singer was sentenced to 3.5 years in federal prison.
“When he slowly started to present the criminal scheme, it seemed like — and I know this seems crazy at the time — that that was my only option to give my daughter a future,” Huffman told ABC7. “I know hindsight is 20/20 but it felt like I would be a bad mother if I didn’t do it. So, I did it.”
“It felt like I had to give my daughter a chance at a future,” Huffman added. “And so it was sort of like my daughter's future, which meant I had to break the law.”
In 2019, the same year the scandal took place, Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in a California prison and served 11. She was also ordered to pay a fine of $30,000 and perform 250 hours of community service, according to court documents. At her sentencing, she said, “I am deeply ashamed of what I have done. At the end of the day I had a choice to make. I could have said ‘no.’”
Huffman admitted to paying Singer $15,000, which was made to look like a charity contribution, to correct her daughter Sophia Grace Macy’s SAT test answers in 2017. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to court documents. Huffman said at her sentencing that her daughter told her, “I don’t know who you are anymore, Mom. Why didn’t you think I could do it on my own?”
Huffman served her prison sentence in October 2019 and completed the others aspects of her sentence, including community service and a year of supervised release, in October 2020.
“I think the people I owe a debt and apology to is the academic community,” Huffman told ABC7. “And to the students and the families that sacrifice and work really hard to get to where they are going legitimately.”