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I had to break the law for my daughter’s future, says Felicity Huffman

Huffman said she wasn't 'looking for a way to cheat the system and making proverbial criminal deals in back alleys'
Felicity Huffman said she wasn't 'looking for a way to cheat the system and making proverbial criminal deals in back alleys' - KATHERINE TAYLOR/EPA-EFE/REX

Felicity Huffman has said she felt she would have been a “bad mother” had she not paid to inflate her daughter’s exam results to help her get into university.

Speaking about the scandal for the first time since she was sentenced, the Oscar-nominated actress said she felt breaking the law was her “only option” to give her eldest daughter a future.

Huffman, 60, was sentenced to 14 days at a California prison in 2019 after she admitted to paying $15,000 to have an invigilator secretly correct her daughter Sophia’s SAT answers.

Best known for her starring role in the TV series Desperate Housewives, Huffman was the highest profile figure caught up in the university admissions scandal that found wealthy parents had broken the law to get their children into top institutions.

Speaking to ABC News, she said: “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.”

‘My only option’

Huffman had hired consultant Rick Singer, whom she “trusted implicitly”, to help Sophia improve her scores to get into university.

“People assumed 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,” she said.

“[Singer] recommended programmes and tutors, and he was the expert. And after a year, he started to say, ‘Your daughter is not going to get into any of the colleges that she wants to.’

“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.”

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

The admissions scandal saw more than 40 people, including actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, accused of paying large amounts to ensure their children were admitted into elite universities.