Emmy-winning actor Felicity Huffman said the college admissions bribery scheme once seemed like the “only option to give” her daughter “a future” after Rick Singer, the mastermind behind the scam, presented his plan to her.
Huffman, in an interview shared by Los Angeles’ KABC-TV on Thursday, spoke out for the first time since serving a short prison sentence for her role in the scheme.
The “Desperate Housewives” star pleaded guilty to committing mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in connection to the 2019 “Operation Varsity Blues,” a scam involving more than 30 parents and a college admissions consultant.
She admitted to paying a consultant $15,000 to boost her daughter’s answers on the SAT.
Huffman, who served 11 days of a 14-day prison sentence, was ordered to pay a $30,000 fine and serve one year of supervised release and 250 hours of community service.
“It felt like I had to give my daughter a chance at a future,” Huffman told KABC-TV. “And so it was sort of like my daughter’s future, which meant I had to break the law.”
She also reflected on how she felt about her daughter, not knowing that she had arranged for someone to alter her exam results.
“She was going, ‘Can we get ice cream afterwards?’” Huffman recalled. “‘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, whose daughter was later accepted to Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University following the scandal, said she didn’t “reach out to Singer ... intending to break the law” and believed him when he told her that her daughter wouldn’t get into “any of the colleges that she wants to.”
She said of the scam, “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, who has since returned to TV, said she owes a “debt and an apology” to the academic community.
“And to the students and families that sacrifice and work really hard to get to where they’re going legitimately,” she said, adding that she wants to use her experience to highlight a Los Angeles-based reentry program for formerly incarcerated women, A New of Life.
You can check out more of KABC-TV’s interview with Huffman here.