Stanford Students File Suit Against 8 Colleges Involved in Admissions Cheating Scandal


Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, a new lawsuit alleges plaintiffs, Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods, were denied a fair opportunity to gain legitimate admission to elite colleges, and that their Stanford degrees were devalued, by a college admissions scheme during which wealthy parents used side doors and cheating to get their kids into some of the nation’s top schools.

All eight colleges involved in the recent college admissions cheating scandal that alleges wealthy parents from different parts of the country sought paid bribes to William Singer to get their children into the best colleges, are named as defendants in the case. Singer is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit filed by the two Stanford students. The students allege they were denied a fair opportunity to apply for admission at Yale and USC, as a part of the suit.  

In a statement released to the public after the scheme was first revealed by the FBI, UCLA detailed that if the school “discovers that any prospective, admitted or enrolled student has misrepresented any aspect of his/her application, or that information about the applicant has been withheld, the school may take a number of disciplinary actions, up to and including cancellation of admission.” Other schools involved in the bribery scam have described themselves as victims in the case and have pledged to re-appropriate any funds received as a result of the scheme.

Joint statement by UCLA and UCLA Athletics posted March 12, 2019

Joint statement by UCLA and UCLA Athletics posted March 12, 2019

So far, more than 50 people have been charged in the case including Singer, Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, Loughlin’s fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, Jane Buckingham, a marketing expert and author, Robert Zangrillo, CEO of venture firm Dragon Global, and Gordon Caplan, co-chairman of the global law firm, Willkie, Farr & Gallagher.

The students are claiming that the schools involved, including Yale, USC, and Georgetown, failed to properly oversee their respective admissions process and ensure that it was fair for all students who applied.

The lawsuit, which is seeking class action status, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on March 13, and hopes to secure damages for any student who applied to one or more of the schools named and was rejected between 2012 and 2019.

FBI Special Agent in Charge, John Bonavolonta, who spoke at a news conference earlier this week about the investigation, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues by the Bureau, stated about those involved in the case,  

“We believe everyone charged here today had a role in fostering a culture of corruption and greed that created an uneven playing field for students trying to get into these schools the right way through hard work, good grades and community service.”

Details about the filing:


Kalea Woods and Erica Olsen


William Rick Singer, Stanford University, The University of California Los Angeles, The University of San Diego, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY, The University of Texas at Austin, The Edge College & Career Network, LLC, The University of Southern California, Wake Forest University and The Key Worldwide Foundation

Case Number:



March 13, 2019

Read the full class action complaint here:

Cover Photo: Courtesy of The Stanford Daily File