Lori Loughlin dropped by TV network as students sue colleges in U.S. admissions scam

The U.S. college admissions scandal has triggered private litigation, accusing rich, well-connected parents of buying spots for their children at prestigious schools, and keeping children of less wealthy parents out.

Prosecutors say wealthy parents paid to rig entrance tests and bribed coaches to get kids into top schools

Crown Media Family Networks, the company that owns the Hallmark cable channel, has cut ties with Lori Loughlin. (Danny Moloshok/Reuters)

Hollywood actress Lori Loughlin was dropped by a TV network and her daughter lost a sponsorship deal on Thursday, while students sued prestigious universities in the growing fallout from a massive college bribery scandal.

Crown Media Family Networks, the company that owns the Hallmark cable channel, cut ties with Loughlin, its Garage Sale Mysteries star, after she was charged in the scandal, it said on Thursday.

Hallmark's announcement followed an earlier one from LVMH's Sephora beauty chain, which said it was ending its partnership with Loughlin's daughter, Olivia. Olivia Giannulli, the 19-year-old daughter of the Full House star and designer Mossimo Giannulli, is a social media "influencer" who goes by the name Olivia Jade online.

Products from her makeup collaboration had been removed from Sephora's website by Thursday afternoon. It was not immediately clear whether her products were available in stores.

A representative for Olivia Giannulli could not immediately be reached for comment.

Largest known admissions scandal in U.S.

Meanwhile, a $500-billion US civil lawsuit filed by a parent on Wednesday in San Francisco accused 45 defendants of defrauding and inflicting emotional distress on everyone whose "rights to a fair chance at entrance to college" were stolen through their alleged conspiracy.

In the largest known college admissions scandal in U.S. history, federal prosecutors on Tuesday said a California company made about $25 million by charging parents to secure spots for their children at elite schools, including Georgetown, Stanford and Yale, by cheating the admissions process.
Gordon Caplan, co-chair of the international law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, walks out of federal court on Tuesday in New York. He's accused of paying to get a test supervisor to correct the answers on his daughter's ACT exam. (Julie Jacobson/Associated Press)

Jennifer Kay Toy, a former teacher in Oakland, Calif., said she believed her son Joshua was not admitted to some colleges, despite his 4.2 grade point average, because wealthy parents thought it was "OK to lie, cheat, steal and bribe their children's way into a good college."

Toy did not say if any colleges admitted her only child, or where Joshua might have won admission but for any chicanery.

Her complaint was filed in California Superior Court. Toy's lawyer did not immediately respond on Thursday to a request for comment.

Food and beverage distributor Gregory Abbott leaves a New York court Tuesday after appearing on bribery charges connected to the case. He and his wife are accused of paying someone to take college entrance tests for their daughter. (Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press)

Fifty people, including 33 parents and many athletic coaches and business executives, were criminally charged in the scandal, which is being overseen by prosecutors in Boston.

Celebrities accused of participating

Among the 50 are the actress Felicity Huffman, actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli, and TPG private equity partner William McGlashan Jr.  Huffman's husband, actor William H. Macy, has not been charged.

Actress Felicity Huffman, left, and Lori Loughlin were among 50 people indicted in the sweeping U.S. university admissions scam. (Lisa O'Connor, Tommaso Boddi/AFP/Getty Images)

The three who were charged are among the defendants in Toy's lawsuit, as is William Singer, the accused mastermind of the scheme.

Prosecutors said Singer, since 2011, used his Edge College & Career Network and an affiliated nonprofit to help prospective students cheat on college admission tests and bribe coaches to inflate their athletic credentials.

Singer pleaded guilty on Tuesday to racketeering charges.

Also on Wednesday, several college students filed a lawsuit against Yale, Georgetown, Stanford and other schools involved in the case, saying they and others were denied a fair shot at admission.

Yale says it's 'the victim of a crime'

The plaintiffs brought the class-action complaint Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of themselves and other applicants and asked for unspecified damages. 

They argued that applicants who played by the rules were victimized when rich and famous parents paid bribes that enabled unqualified students to get into highly selective universities.
William (Rick) Singer leaves a federal courthouse in Boston on Tuesday. He's accused of being the mastermind behind what's being described as the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice. Singer pleaded guilty to several charges. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

"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 said.

One of the institutions being sued, the University of Texas at Austin, issued a statement saying that it is "outraged" over the bribery scheme and that any wrongdoing at the school does not reflect its admissions practices and was carried out by "one UT employee."

Other schools named in the lawsuit were the University of Southern California, the University of California at Los Angeles, Wake Forest University and the University of San Diego.

Among other claims, the lawsuit said that the universities should have discovered the bribes and that their failure to do so through audits or other practices reflects "an unfair business practice." 

USC officials said earlier this week that prosecutors believe that the perpetrators "went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university."

Yale, likewise, said it was "the victim of a crime."

With files from The Associated Press and CBC News


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