Felicity Huffman Breaks Her Silence on College Admission Scandal, Explains Her Motive

Felicity Huffman spent 11 days in prison for her role in the college admissions scandal.

For the first time, Felicity Huffman is publicly addressing her involvement in the infamous college admissions scandal, shedding light on the circumstances that led her to make the controversial decision.

The Oscar-nominated actress was among several high-profile individuals charged in the scandal that rocked the nation. Named "Operation Varsity Blues," the scandal exposed a criminal conspiracy where affluent parents resorted to bribery, cheating, and other fraudulent means to secure spots for their children in prestigious universities such as Yale, USC, and Georgetown.

In an interview with ABC-7 Eyewitness News, Huffman revealed that her actions were not driven by a desire to cheat the system but rather by trust in a highly recommended college counselor, William "Rick" Singer. Huffman disclosed that she worked with Singer for a year, trusting his expertise and recommendations for her daughter's college applications. However, as the counselor presented the criminal scheme, Huffman felt compelled to participate for the sake of her daughter's future.

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"After a year, he started to say your daughter is not going to get into any of the colleges that she wants to," Huffman says.

"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," she explains. "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."

Huffman continues, "People assume that I went into this looking for a way to cheat the system and making proverbial criminal deals in back alleys, but that was not the case. It felt like I had to give my daughter a chance at a future. And so it was sort of like my daughter's future, which meant I had to break the law."

The 60-year-old Desperate Housewives actress -- who did not inform her and William H. Macy's daughter, Sophia, about the scheme -- recounts moments of doubt as she drove her child to the falsified SAT exam.

"She was going, 'Can we get ice cream afterwards?'" Huffman recalls. "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."


Months later, the FBI showed up at her door.

"They came into my home. They woke my daughters up at gunpoint. Again, nothing new to the Black and brown community," Huffman says. "Then they put my hands behind my back and handcuffed me and I asked if I could get dressed."

"I thought it was a hoax. I literally turned to one of the FBI people, in a flak jacket and a gun, and I went, 'Is this a joke?'"

It wasn't.

Huffman pleaded guilty to paying for a proctor to change her daughter's answers on the exam, leading to a $30,000 fine, 250 hours of community service and serving 11 days of a 14-day prison sentence in October 2019. Her husband, actor William H. Macy, was not charged in connection to the scandal.

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Huffman has completed her full sentence, and her daughter retook the SATs and is currently enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University's theatre program.

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

Meanwhile, mastermind William "Rick" Singer, who orchestrated the fraudulent scheme through his businesses, Key Worldwide Foundation and The Edge College & Career Network, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison and ordered to forfeit $10 million earlier this year.

Huffman, now using her experience to bring about positive change, has been actively involved with the nonprofit organization A New Way of Life, which provides support to formerly incarcerated women through services like housing, job training, and clothing. Huffman emphasized her commitment to turning a painful moment into an opportunity for good.

"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 shares.

As Huffman prepares to make her return to television in the legal spinoff The Good Lawyer, scheduled to premiere in March 2024 on ABC, she hopes to focus on both her acting career and her advocacy work, using her platform to shed light on important issues and contribute to meaningful change.

In addition to Huffman, Full House actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, served jail time for their involvement in the college admissions scandal. Loughlin served almost two months behind bars in 2020, while Giannulli served five months in jail and was released in April 2021.