The prospect of actually going to trial in connection to the college admissions scandal is "terrifying" for actress Lori Loughlin, and the scandal has "destroyed" her family.
In this week's People cover story, insiders shed light on where Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli's, heads are in the days after pleading not guilty to all charges against them. They're being accused of paying $500,000 to get both of their daughters into USC as women's crew recruits, despite having no rowing experience whatsoever.
"This is putting unspeakable stress on her and her family," a source close told People. "They’re having to play this all out publicly, and they’re fair game for jokes and memes, but also outraged [by] people who are saying that they are cheaters."
"The idea of going to trial is terrifying for Lori," the insider adds. "Everything comes out in trial, whether or not it’s relevant to the case. She will be under a microscope, and you only have to look at the paparazzi outside the court to know that there is widespread interest in this case. She will lose every bit of her privacy, and that’s a shame. This really is a family matter."
Loughlin is also "very concerned what a trial will do to her daughters" and the effect that it could have on the rest of their lives going forward.
"It will undermine every accomplishment they have in the future and it will be part of their story forever," a legal source told the outlet. "It’s not in their best interest for this to go to trial, and Lori knows it. Because if it goes to trial, the girls will have to take the stand, and be cross examined by a prosecution that wants nothing more than to put a notch on their belt."
"Lori is very afraid that her daughters will have to testify," the source added. "That will traumatize them even more."
Both Loughlin and Giannulli could face up to 20 years in prison for each of the charges against them -- mail fraud and money laundering conspiracy -- meaning that they're each facing a possible 40 years behind bars. As stated above, they pleaded not guilty to all charges after rejecting a plea deal.
Legal experts told Us Weekly that the couple had "no choice but to plead not guilty" after rejecting the deal.
"They missed the opportunity for a plea bargain during the first round, and now there might not be a deal available for them to take," the source explained.
At the end of the day, though, despite the fact that she faces years behind bars and daily public ridicule for her alleged actions, insiders say that what matters most to Loughlin is what her daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose, think of her.
"Yes, she can think about the public perception of her, but that’s nothing compared to what her daughters think of her," a People source said.
Judging by recent photos of her embracing Isabella in public, the family is leaning on one another as the scandal continues.