Felicity Huffman Breaks Silence on College Admissions Scandal

"It felt like I had to give my daughter a chance at a future," she said in her first interview since the 2019 scandal. "And so it was sort of like my daughter's future, which meant I had to break the law."

Four years after the college admissions scandal first made headlines, Felicity Huffman is breaking her silence.

While speaking with ABC-7 Eyewitness News, the 60-year-old actress spoke out for the first time on the scandal — dubbed Operation Varsity Blues — revealing what led her her involvement and sharing why she decided to take drastic measures to get her daughter into a prestigious university.

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In March 2019, 50 individuals — including Huffman and actress Lori Loughlin — were indicted  for paying mastermind William “Rick” Singer to provide various backdoor options for their children to get into elite universities. The allegations include bribing college officials to facilitate cheating on entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT, bribing coaches to designate non-athlete applicants as recruited athletes and using charitable organizations to conceal bribery payments.

In 2019, Huffman was accused of taking part in a scheme to cheat on the SATs by paying $15,000 to a service to boost her daughter Sophia’s test scores. She pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, leading to a two-year prison sentence. Huffman served 11 days in total in October 2019, before beginning one year of supervised release, with conditions including 250 hours of community service.

Looking back, Huffman — who shares Sophia Macy with husband William Macy — admitted she has “undying shame” for her actions.

“It felt like I had to give my daughter a chance at a future,” she told ABC-7. “And so it was sort of like my daughter’s future, which meant I had to break the law.”

The Desperate Housewives star recalled the moment she drove Sophia to take her SATs in December 2017.

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“She was going, ‘Can we get ice cream afterward?'” she said. “‘I’m scared about the test. What can we do that’s fun?’ And I kept thinking, turn around, just turn around. And to my undying shame, I didn’t.”

Huffman claimed that Singer convinced her that Sophia wouldn’t be able to get into “any” of the unviersities she wanted to on merit alone.

“After a year, he started to say your daughter is not going to get into any of the colleges that she wants to,” she recalled. “And I believed him. And so when he slowly started to present the criminal scheme, it seems like — and I know this seems crazy at the time — but that was my only option to give my daughter a future. And I know hindsight is 20/20 but it felt like I would be a bad mother if I didn’t do it. So — I did it.”

The Oscar winner said the FBI came knocking months later, with Huffman saying that she initially thought it was a “joke.”

“They came into my home. They woke my daughters up at gunpoint. Again, nothing new to the Black and brown community,” Huffman said, acknowledging her privilege. “They put my hands behind my back and handcuffed me and I asked if I could get dressed.”

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“I thought it was a hoax,” she admitted. “I literally turned to one of the FBI people, in a flak jacket and a gun, and I went, is this a joke?”

Huffman expressed her regret for her involvement in the scandal.

“I think the people I owe a debt and apology to is the academic community,” she said. “And to the students and the families that sacrifice and work really hard to get to where they are going legitimately.”

Huffman served her time in prison and completed her community service with the nonprofit A New Way of Life, which she still works with today.

“I want to use my experience and what I’ve gone through and the pain to bring something good, which is to shine a light on Susan Burton’s organization called A New Way of Life,” she said, looking at Burton, who sat next to her in the interview.

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Meanwhile, in 2020, it was reported that Huffman’s daughter Sophia Macy retook the SATs and hit marks high enough to get her into the prestigious Drama School at Carnegie Mellon University, according to Page Six at the time.

Other parents involved in the infamous scandal include Lori Loughlin and her designer husband Mossimo Giannulli.

The couple were accused of paying $500,000 to pass their daughter Olivia Jade and her older sister Bella off as athletic recruits to the USC crew team, even though neither competitively rowed before.

Loughlin and Giannulli were sentenced in 2020 to two months and five months in prison, and ordered to pay a fine of $150,000 and $250,000 respectively.

Loughlin reported to the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California in October 2020, and was released the following December.

Singer, meanwhile, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison in January 2023.

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