News

Two students continue lawsuit over college admissions scandal

Plaintiffs say scam connected to their rejection from Stanford, four other universities

Two students have dropped out of a federal lawsuit filed over the college admissions cheating scandal but two others are continuing their claims in a new lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose on Friday.

Like the previous lawsuit, the new complaint by students Tyler Bendis of Orange County, Nicholas Johnson of New Jersey and two of their parents was filed against admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer and eight universities implicated in the case.

The universities are not facing any criminal charges, but the lawsuit levies civil claims accusing them of deceptive trade practices, unfair business practices and negligence in failing to prevent bribery and fraud by wealthy parents, athletic coaches and Singer.

Singer, the admitted mastermind of the scheme, is hit with a claim of civil racketeering. He pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston last week to charges of criminal racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

The universities sued are Stanford, the University of Southern California, Yale, Georgetown, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of San Diego, the University of Texas at Austin and Wake Forest.

The students claim they were promised a fair admissions process when they paid application fees of $50 to $100, but were denied that when unqualified children of wealthy parents participating in the scheme were admitted through fraudulent academic testing and athletic recruiting.

"Each of the universities took the students' admission application fees while failing to take adequate steps to ensure that their admissions process was fair and free of fraud, bribery, cheating and dishonesty," the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit seeks to be certified as a class action on behalf of the estimated thousands of students rejected by the eight universities between 2012 and 2018.

The lawsuit was originally filed by Stanford students Kalea Woods and Erica Olsen on March 13, the day after the criminal charges were announced. Olsen dropped out but Bendis, Johnson and a third student joined Woods in an amended version of the lawsuit on March 14.

That lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed by all the students on Friday, but replaced by the new case with Bendis, Johnson, Bendis's mother and Johnson's father continuing as plaintiffs.

Bendis and Johnson both say they had high grades and SAT scores and were school athletes. Bendis, now studying at a community college in Orange County, was turned down by Stanford, UCLA and the University of San Diego. Johnson, now at Rutgers University, was rejected by Stanford, Yale and the University of Texas at Austin.

In a separate lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court on March 13, former Oakland teacher Jennifer Toy and her son, Joshua Toy, sued 32 parents named in a criminal fraud complaint in federal court in Boston; Singer; and nine coaches and test administrators named in a racketeering indictment.

The Toys' lawsuit, which does not name any universities, includes civil claims of negligent infliction of emotional distress, conspiracy and fraud.

It asks to be certified as a class action and seeks a $500 billion award for what it estimates were one million people denied a fair chance at college admissions because of the actions of the parents, coaches, test administrators and Singer.

More on the national admissions bribery scam:

Video: Unpacking the college-admissions scandal

Feds: Parents paid tens of thousands to game the admissions system

Pressure over college admissions 'out of control'

Ex-global equity firm exec, a grad of Gunn High, implicated in admissions scam

Opinion: Making the college-admissions system more equitable

Opinion: Lessons parents should learn from the college-admissions scandal

Editorial: The audacity of privilege

$75K for a fake ACT score? Students say cheating happens without the big bucks

In response to college-admissions scandal, Stanford to probe policies, current athletic recruits

Palo Alto couple faces money-laundering charge in college-admissions scam

Following college-admissions indictments, feds investigate whether Stanford was lax in complying with financial-aid laws

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

4 people like this
Posted by Reviewer
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 19, 2019 at 11:39 am

Excellent procedure for all students who applied fairly to colleges and universities for admissions and were not treated with respect and fairness!

The current opening of panadora’s box of unlawful college and admission practices will have a rippling effect that could help students realize that there are better and more fulfilling places to get an education than the corporate finnanced institutions who perpetrate improprieties, fraud, deception, betrayal and all other damaging effects to create and sustain a society with beneficial values for all.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2019 at 12:25 pm

>> The current opening of panadora’s box of unlawful college and admission practices will have a rippling effect that could help students realize that there are better and more fulfilling places to get an education

I don't want to play Negative Ned here, but, back in the day, sure, you didn't -have to- buy IBM computers, but, as they used to say, "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM." Until they did, of course, but, that took 30 years.

Likewise, "nobody" ever was disqualified from interviewing for a professional job just because they graduated from Harvard or Stanford or [...]. Maybe in another 30 years.


12 people like this
Posted by Move On
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 19, 2019 at 1:15 pm

Another frivolous lawsuit for the courts to deal with.

The only ones who will come out ahead are the parasitic attorneys.

These kids should concentrate on completing college, embarking on their careers & move on.

[Portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by CPA
a resident of another community
on Mar 19, 2019 at 8:28 pm

Doing the math...$500B less 33% attorney fees ($166B) = $334B divided by 1M = $134,000.00 per plaintiff.

Looks like the attorneys & their respective law firms will be doing a whole lot better come settlement time although $134K is a nice chunk of change to have come graduation time.


3 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2019 at 11:25 am

I truly hope that this suit is tossed by any judge that sees it. Why?
For any money to be paid to the plaintiffs , the plaintiffs would have to establish that they were "damaged" by not gaining admittance into one of the elite universities. To claim that attending a college or university other than an "elite" college or university causes any type of damages feeds the false narrative that people who attend these "elite" schools are better off than students who attend the numerous other outstanding schools throughout the country.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2019 at 11:50 am

Posted by Steve, a resident of another community

>> For any money to be paid to the plaintiffs , the plaintiffs would have to establish that they were "damaged" by not gaining admittance into one of the elite universities.

I disagree. If they can show that they, specifically, were denied admission, because, say, they were the top two people on the wait list who didn't make it. The average lifetime financial benefits are obvious and are on various websites. Websites show calculated ROI.

Nobody ever got fired for hiring a Stanford graduate. It is a "safe brand".


2 people like this
Posted by If They Have Money, Sue Them
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 21, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Can the students sue Lori Loughlan & Felicity Huffman for their fraudulent indiscretions?


Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2019 at 6:56 pm

“Lifetime benefits are obvious?” At best the vast majority of research suggests benefits are debatable. Here is what is obvious: if people continue to believe that elite colleges lead to a life of milk and honey people will continue to risk virtually anything, including their kids health, to gain admittance. Chasing these very few admission slots is parental malpractice of the highest order.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2019 at 3:52 pm

Posted by Steve, a resident of another community

>> “Lifetime benefits are obvious?” At best the vast majority of research suggests benefits are debatable.

The context there was purely financial. Look at the top 30 schools by ROI, listed right here:

Web Link

Someone else noted the service academies and I would add maritime academies as well, which, actually, are generally the highest. Can't beat the zero or modest investment required to get officer training when it comes to calculating ROI. Also note: CSU has a maritime academy with an excellent post-graduate salary record. For California residents, the ROI is better than Stanford.

All this, of course, is purely financial. For the maritime-inclined, such an education would be "priceless".

Of course, speaking for myself, I would never consider the main benefit of an education should be judged in purely ROI terms. But, apparently, some people do. ;-)

>> Here is what is obvious: if people continue to believe that elite colleges lead to a life of milk and honey people will continue to risk virtually anything, including their kids health, to gain admittance. Chasing these very few admission slots is parental malpractice of the highest order.

I agree with you. But, I also think it is instructive that the Missouri University of Science and Technology has a slightly better ROI than Yale. Looking at the ROI list should give people who only care about money pause for thought.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Su Hong 2.0? Former waiter reopens Chinese standby under new name in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 11 comments | 7,068 views

Living as Roommates? Not Having Much Sex?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 3,438 views

What gives you hope?
By Sherry Listgarten | 20 comments | 3,423 views

Expert witnesses are more than experts. Plus my 7 fundamental impeachment questions
By Douglas Moran | 36 comments | 3,142 views

Sure, the traffic mess in town is a complicated problem, but I want a solution
By Diana Diamond | 30 comments | 1,188 views

 

Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 26 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away more than $7 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. When you make a donation, every dollar is automatically doubled, and 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.

DONATE HERE