The arrest affidavit for dozens of parents accused in a massive college admission scam reveals that multiple applicants who cheated on college entrance exams pretended to have learning disabilities in order to obtain special accommodations that would facilitate the alleged cheating. In some cases, while applicants may have cooperated with instructions on how to receive time extensions and other accommodations as a result of a purported learning disability, the students were unaware that proctors administering their exams had been bribed to ensure the applicant received a desirable score.
Documents released by the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts detail the allegations against over 40 people, including “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, who allegedly paid a person identified in the documents as CW-1 (CW = cooperating witness) thousands upon thousands of dollars in bribes to ensure their children would be admitted to elite schools like Yale, Stanford, and the University of Southern California.
Much of the evidence outlined in the documents appears to have been by CW-1, believed to be William Singer, who pleaded guilty on Tuesday to his role in the admissions scam. Singer, who operated an admissions consulting company called The Key, has reportedly been cooperating with authorities since September of 2018, and appears to have provided investigators with records of correspondence implicating dozens of parents in the scheme.
The documents show multiple instances in which CW-1 explains to a defendant how he can help their child cheat on an SAT or ACT exam by using some of the fee they paid him to bribe a proctor in a private test setting. From the affidavit:
“CW-1 instructed clients of The Key to seek extended time for their children on college entrance exams if they had not done so already, including by having the children purport to have learning disabilities in order to obtain the medical documentation that ACT, Inc. and the College Board typically require before granting students extended time.
“CW-1 bribed the test administrators to allow a third-party—typically CW-2—to take the exams in place of the actual students, to serve as a purported proctor for the exams while providing students with the correct answers, or to review and correct the students’ answers after they completed the exams. In many instances, the students taking the exams were unaware that their parents had arranged for this cheating.”
In one exchange with a defendant, CW-1 says that her daughter must pretend to be “stupid” in order to qualify for the accommodations granted to students with learning disabilities, which includes the ability to take the test in a private setting and not at their own high school.
” … I also need to tell [your daughter] when she gets tested, to be as, to be stupid, not to be as smart as she is. The goal is to be slow, to be not as bright, all that, so we show discrepancies,” CW-1 is quoted as telling a parent in the affidavit.
“All of these things, and many more things, I did,” Singer reportedly said. “I created a side door that would guarantee families would get in.”
Singer is expected to be released from custody once he pays a $500,000 bond.
[Feature image: zz/Michael Germana/STAR MAX/IPx 2010 9/23/10 Felicity Huffman at the Padres El Contra Cancer’s 25th Anniversary Gala. (Los Angeles, CA)]