UT Austin among schools named in first lawsuit over college cheating scandal

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SAN FRANCISCO - Two college students have filed a lawsuit against the University of Southern California, Yale University and other colleges where prosecutors have accused rich and famous parents paying bribes to ensure their children's admission.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco and alleges the students were denied a fair opportunity for admission.

Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods claimed they were denied a fair opportunity to apply to Yale and USC. The lawsuit also named the University of California, Los Angeles, Wake Forest University, the University of San Diego, the University of Texas at Austin, Georgetown University and Stanford University.

DOCUMENTS: Read lawsuit filed in college cheating scandal

The alleged scheme gave unqualified students admission to highly selective universities, said the plaintiffs, who are both currently students at Stanford.

"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 plaintiffs said in the lawsuit.

The University of Texas sent KPRC2 a statement that read:

"Like many students and families across the country, we are also outraged that parents, outside actors and university employees may have committed fraud surrounding admissions at universities. 

"The University of Texas has a thorough, holistic admissions process. The action alleged by federal prosecutors against one UT employee were not in line with that policy and may have been criminal. They do not reflect our admissions process."

Charges were announced earlier this week against 50 people, including coaches and dozens of parents, in a scheme where prosecutors have said wealthy parents paid to rig standardized scores and bribed sports coaches to get their children into elite universities.

The colleges named have cast themselves as victims of the scheme, and have moved to distance themselves from the coaches accused of involvement.

"We understand that the government believes that illegal activity was carried out by individuals who went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university," USC officials said in a statement earlier this week.

Yale officials said earlier this week they were cooperating with the investigation.

"As the indictment makes clear, the Department of Justice believes that Yale has been the victim of a crime perpetrated by its former women's soccer coach," Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said.

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