When I turned on my computer last month, the last story I expected to see was "Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman Are Involved in a College Admissions Scandal," but here we are. It's 2019, and Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are very much involved in a college admissions scandal.
Here's what's going on, according to CNN: A group of wealthy parents allegedly paid a college prep organization to take the SAT/ACT entrance exams on behalf of their children or to correct their answers. There's also a second part to this scheme, in which college coaches were allegedly bribed into admitting wealthy students as recruited athletes, regardless of their actual abilities. Some defendants even had fake profiles created to make their children look like successful athletes, according to court documents.
Per TMZ, this was all funneled through a man named William Rick Singer, who would take parents' requests—either to fix test scores or create fake athlete profiles—and contact the appropriate parties.
Fifty people total were charged in this case, which federal prosecutors dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, including two SAT/ACT administrators, one exam proctor, nine coaches at elite schools, one college administrator, and 33 parents with privileged backgrounds.
According to TMZ, Huffman, who played Lynette Scavo on Desperate Housewives, is charged with felony conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, per court papers. CNN reports Huffman is accused of paying $15,000 to an organization that helped her daughter cheat on the SATs.
Loughlin, best known as Aunt Becky on Full House, has the same charges against her. She and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying $500,000 to have their two daughters billed as recruits for the University of Southern California crew team, even though neither of them participates in the sport.
"There can be no separate college admissions system for the wealthy," U.S. attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said at a press conference Tuesday, March 12. "And I will add there will not be a separate criminal justice system either."
People naturally have so many thoughts about this case—and the Desperate Housewives and Full House jokes keep rolling in. Below, check out just a few reactions to this truly bonkers situation.
On Wednesday, March 13, 24 hours after news of the scandal broke, Lori Loughlin was arrested in Los Angeles after taking an overnight flight back to California from Canada. She faces felony charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
On Thursday, March 14, Hallmark announced it was ending its working relationship with Loughlin, who's been a mainstay on the network for years. "We are saddened by the recent news surrounding the college admissions allegations," Hallmark's parent company Crown Media said in a statement, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin and have stopped development of all productions that air on the Crown Media Family Network channels involving Lori Loughlin, including Garage Sale Mysteries, an independent third-party production." Per, The Hollywood Reporter Netflix has also cut ties with Loughlin ahead of the final season of Fuller House.
According to People magazine, Loughlin's daughter, Olivia Jade Giannulli, has "no plans" to return to USC in light of this scandal. “She can’t handle anything right now. She seems more and more upset every day. She just wants to stay home,” a source tells the publication.
Sephora severed its working relationship with Giannulli, who's an influencer and had a collection with the brand, because of what's going on. "After careful review of recent developments, we have made the decision to end the Sephora Collection partnership with Olivia Jade, effective immediately," a statement from the company reads.
“[Olivia] feels she has worked very hard to get different work deals and everything is just gone," the source also tells People. "She thought she knew what the future had in store for her, and it all just crumbled. It’s a never-ending nightmare for her. She understands the serious consequences her parents are facing and she is very scared.” Loughlin's eldest daughter, Isabella Rose Giannulli, is also a USC student, though it's unclear whether she's returning.
As of Friday, March 15, Olivia Jade had lost a partnership deal with Tresemmé. Since the college admissions scandal was brought to light, CBS News has confirmed both Loughlin and Huffman have deleted their social media accounts.
Nicollette Sheridan, Huffman's former costar on Desperate Housewives, commented on the scandal to Access Live on March 18. "We don't know the facts, but we can be extremely disturbed by the entitlement, the power, and money that can take away from less privileged, and that, to me, is disgraceful," she said. "So we'll see where it really stands."
She then added, "I think there are ways to remedy a system that isn't working, and I think it has been broken for a long time. I don't want to get into how to fix it, but it's troublesome. It's troublesome because it can change the life path of a child that is deserving."
Entertainment Tonight published a report on Wednesday, March 20, alleging Loughlin's daughters are "suffering in their own ways from the fallout of their parents' decisions." A source tells the site, "Bella and Olivia have a very tight-knit group of friends who have been there to support them. They've needed that support because they're being attacked at every turn."
Per ET, Olivia is embarrassed by the entire situation. A source says she's "really angry with her parents because she told them she did not want to go to college and she was pushed."
"She has been passionate about her career and wanted to work and was doing well, but that wasn't enough," the source continues. "Her parents said she would have to juggle college and her career. Now she's devastated because everything she built imploded before her eyes…. She feels they ruined everything."
On Monday, April 8, Huffman announced in a statement that intend to plead guilty to the charges against her. "I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions," she said. "I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community."
According to reports, Huffman faces up to 10 months in prison, depending on how severe the court finds her offense. The fact she is acknowledging her guilt and has no prior convictions should work in her favor, although a plea deal could also involve fines and other non-jail punishments.
Loughlin, however, might be facing a heftier sentence. She hasn't admitted any guilt yet, and on Tuesday (April 9) she, husband Mossimo Giannulli, and 16 more parents were indicted on an additional felony charge: money laundering. Both of these things could mean more jail time. According to People, she faces up to 40 years in prison, but the actual sentencing will probably be more in line with the other defendants', which is around three to five years. (If she's found guilty, that is.)
A source tells People magazine Loughlin is trying to keep her daily routine as normal as possible to stay calm through this crisis. “While waiting for this to come to some conclusion, she’s trying to keep a somewhat regular schedule—going to yoga and Pilates and seeing friends for lunch,” they say. “She is very faith-based, and she knows her faith will get her through this.”
The amount of money Huffman and Loughlin allegedly spent in this scandal also plays a factor. Huffman is accused of paying an organization $15,000 to correct her daughter's SATs scores, while Loughlin and Giannulli spent $500,000 to pass their daughters off as USC crew recruits. Per People, a higher bribe means a harsher sentence.
Meanwhile, Us Weekly obtained a statement from USC regarding Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose's future at the school. Here it is, in full:
USC has placed holds on the accounts of students who may be associated with the alleged admissions scheme. This prevents the students from registering for classes (until they have agreed to participate in the review of their case), withdrawing from the university, or acquiring transcripts while their cases are under review. Among many factors investigators could consider in reviewing each case are any developments in the criminal cases, including plea deals by parents. Following these case-by-case reviews, we will take the proper action related to each student’s status, up to revoking admission or expulsion.
While Huffman accepted a plea deal on April 8, the fate of Loughlin's legal battle is still unknown, as she and Giannulli have yet to agree to a deal and additional charges have been added to their indictments. "She has been in complete denial and thought maybe she could skate by," a source told E!. "She refused to accept any jail time and thought the D.A. was bluffing. She was adamant she wouldn't do any jail time."
"Lori is finally realizing just how serious this is," the source continues. "She is seeing the light that she will do jail time and is freaking out."
TMZ broke the news on Monday, April 15, that both Loughlin and Giannulli are pleading not guilty to all the charges against them in this case.
This post is being continually updated with new information.