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A very middle-class scandal


A well-known actress is among the dozens of people who could be facing jail time after admitting to their parts in a huge college admissions scandal in the US. Felicity Huffman, probably best known for her starring role in American Housewives as well as parts in series such as the X-files, has pleaded guilty to paying someone to falsify her daughter’s SAT scores, the key criteria for entrance into top colleges in the US. She is far from alone and prominent figures in law, finance, fashion and other middle-class American pursuits have also become embroiled in the scandal which has enthralled and appalled the public in equal measures.

Universities across the US have been implicated in what is the biggest ever such case brought by the Department of Justice. Over 50 people have been charged so far, most of them unfamiliar with the inside of a courtroom – barring the half dozen top lawyers in their number. Paying people to sit exams, lying about sporting prowess with the collusion of coaches and straightforward bribes to college admissions staff have all now come to the surface.  Parents, college staff, sports coaches and outside “consultants” are all facing trial, something Ms Huffman has avoided by entering her guilty plea, although she has been warned a short prison term is likely.

The affair has also raised many questions such as the pressure on kids to attend the top colleges and the fact that once again money seems to get people what they want in the USA, even a top education that is paid for in part by the taxpayer. The other question concerns children that will have lost a place to their peers who have cheated, or at least their parents did on their behalf. One man, William Singer, is accused of being the mastermind behind the scandal. He is a senior college admissions counsellor who built a network of crooked parents, students and college staff across the country to operate the scheme which made him “millions of dollars”.

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