SAN FRANCISCO — In one of the first lawsuits to come out of the college bribery scandal, several students are suing Yale, Georgetown, Stanford and other schools involved in the case, saying they and others were denied a fair shot at admission.
The plaintiffs brought the class-action complaint Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of themselves and other applicants, asking for unspecified damages and the return of all application fees.
They argued that applicants who played by the rules were victimized when rich and famous parents paid bribes that enabled unqualified students to get into highly selective universities.
“Each of the universities took the students’ admission application fees while failing to take adequate steps to ensure that their admissions process was fair and free of fraud, bribery, cheating and dishonesty,” the lawsuit said.
Legal experts, though, said the students could have difficulty holding the colleges responsible.
The scandal erupted Tuesday when federal prosecutors announced charges against 50 people, including coaches and dozens of parents, among them TV actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Prosecutors said parents paid to rig standardized exams and bribed coaches to get their children designated as recruited athletes in sports they didn’t even play, thereby boosting their chances of getting in.
The colleges have cast themselves as victims and moved to distance themselves from the coaches by firing or suspending them.
The investigation began with a tip from an executive under suspicion in a securities fraud probe, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.