ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

clear-day
83°
Clear
H 84° L 63°
  • clear-day
    83°
    Current Conditions
    Clear. H 84° L 63°
  • clear-night
    64°
    Morning
    Clear. H 84° L 63°
  • cloudy-day
    78°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 82° L 60°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest newscast

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Entertainment
Students target colleges in lawsuit over bribery scheme
Close

Students target colleges in lawsuit over bribery scheme

Students target colleges in lawsuit over bribery scheme
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ben Margot
People walk near Memorial Church on the Stanford University campus Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif. In the first lawsuit 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, March 13, 2019, in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of themselves and other applicants and asked for unspecified damages. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Students target colleges in lawsuit over bribery scheme

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.

The executive told Boston authorities that the women's soccer coach at Yale offered to label the executive's daughter a recruited athlete in exchange for cash, the official said.

Among other developments Thursday:

— The Hallmark Channel cut ties with Loughlin, a longtime star of its feel-good movies.

—Cosmetics company Sephora and hair-product company TRESemme dropped Loughlin's daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli, a 19-year-old social media star who had previously pushed their products online.

— Golfer Phil Mickelson said he used the college consulting company accused of orchestrating the scheme but emphasized his family was not involved in any fraud. One of his daughters is a sophomore at Brown University. Brown said it has found no evidence of fraud among its athletes.

The class-action complaint was brought initially by Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods, now students at Stanford. It was revised Thursday to remove Olsen and add three new plaintiffs, students at Tulane, Rutgers and an unnamed community college.

One of the institutions being sued, the University of Texas at Austin, issued a statement saying that it is "outraged" over the bribery scheme and that any wrongdoing at the school does not reflect its admissions practices and was carried out by "one UT employee."

Other schools named in the lawsuit were the University of Southern California, the University of California at Los Angeles, Wake Forest University and the University of San Diego.

The students in the lawsuit could have a difficult time tying the schools to the fraud in the absence of further evidence, said Joy Blanchard, a professor at Louisiana State University who focuses on higher education law.

"They won't be able to prove that the universities were behind some grand scheme," she said.

Kyle McEntee, an attorney who has pushed for reforms in law school education, said the lawsuit "reeks of opportunism."

"It's tough to see these succeeding," he said.

Legal experts said the plaintiffs at highly selective Stanford would have had an especially hard time showing they suffered any harm because they still got into an elite institution.

Messages seeking comment from Olsen and Woods were not immediately returned. An email to one of their attorneys, John Medler, also was not immediately returned.

Among other claims, the lawsuit said that the universities should have discovered the bribes and that their failure to do so through audits or other practices reflects "an unfair business practice."

The lawsuit seeks to represent everyone who applied between 2012 and 2018, paid an application fee and was rejected by one of the named schools.

David Levine, an expert in lawsuit rules and procedures at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, said the plaintiffs may succeed in returning application fees to prospective students but probably won't get anything more.

"The big money is unlikely to be there," he said.

USC officials said earlier this week that prosecutors believe the perpetrators "went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university." Yale, likewise, said it was "the victim of a crime."

____

Melia reported from Hartford, Connecticut. Associated Press writer Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston contributed to this report.

Read More

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A widely shared Facebook post shows a lone prayer closet remaining on the site of a home where an EF4 tornado ripped through in Alabama. Earlier in March, a tornado carved a path across Lee County, Alabama destroying homes and ripping up trees.  Only a few buildings and homes were able to make it, including a local grandmother’s prayer closet. According to 11 Alive, Chaplain Jason Smith was out with Billy Graham’s Rapid Response Team and noticed the prayer closet.   In his Facebook post, he reports the entire family who lived there survived. “Listen to me please,” he wrote in the post.  “I just left a family who survived the tornado in this house and the only left standing is this closet.  It’s the grandmother’s prayer closet, and the whole family survived.  Are you kiddin me!!! My God is awesome!!! Shout somebody! --Jason--” As of this article, the two-week old post has been shared over 96 thousand times and garnered more than 62 thousand likes.
  • Federal prosecutors in New York and California announced charges Monday in separate cases against attorney Michael Avenatti. >> Read more trending news Authorities in New York arrested Avenatti on Monday to face allegations out of the Southern District of New York that he attempted to extort Nike and charges of bank and wire fraud out of the Central District of California. >> Read the complaint against Avenatti filed in New York Update 3:20 p.m. EDT March 25: In a statement obtained by CNBC, a Nike spokesperson said the company “has been cooperating with the government’s investigation into NCAA basketball for over a year.” “When Nike became aware of this matter, Nike immediately reported it to federal prosecutors,” the statement said. “When Mr. Avenatti attempted to extort Nike over this matter, Nike with the assistance of outside counsel at Boies Schiller Flexner, aided the investigation.” Authorities said Avenatti and an unnamed co-conspirator attempted to extort Nike of more than $20 million by threatening “to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.” Citing a pair of unidentified sources, The Wall Street Journal reported the unnamed co-conspirator allegedly involved in the case was attorney Mark Geragos. Update 3:05 p.m. EDT March 25: Investigators with the IRS launched a probe into Aveantti more than a year ago, after an official noticed “irregularities” while attempting to collect payroll taxes from Avenatti, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Nick Hanna said. The bank and wire fraud “allegations ... paint an ugly picture of lawless conduct and greed,” Hanna said, calling Avenatti “a corrupt lawyer who ... fights for his own selfish interests by misappropriating close to $1 million that rightfully belonged to one of his clients.” Hanna said Avenatti negotiated a settlement for one of his clients in December 2017 as part of an intellectual property dispute. Under the settlement, Avenatti’s client was expected to get $1.6 million in January 2018. However, Hanna said Avenatti presented his client with a false settlement agreement that listed March 2018 at the date by which the payment was due. The payment was made to an account controlled by Avenatti on Jan. 5, 2018. “Mr. Avenatti then used his client’s money to pay expenses for his own coffee business, Global Baristas LLC which did business as Tully’s coffee as well as to pay his own expenses,” Hanna said. Avenatti was arrested Monday in New York to face federal charges on both the east and west coasts. Avenatti is facing a maximum of 50 years in prison if he’s convicted of the bank and wire fraud charges in California. Federal prosecutors in New York also charged Avenatti in a separate case in which he was accused of attempting to extort Nike. Update 2:20 p.m. EDT March 25: Authorities in California are providing more details Monday in the case against Avenatti. Update 2:15 p.m. EDT March 25: Avenatti’s former client, Stormy Daniels, said in a statement Monday that she was “saddened but not shocked by news reports that he has been criminally charged.” “I made the decision more than a month ago to terminate Michael’s services after discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly,” Daniels said. Avenatti represented Daniels in her court battle to throw out a non-disclosure agreement she had signed before the 2016 presidential election. The agreement barred her from talking about a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump years before the election. Original report: Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York said Avenatti attempted “to extract more than $20 million in payments from a public traded company by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.” The company was identified in a criminal complaint as Nike. Earlier Monday, Avenatti had announced plans to hold a press conference Tuesday “to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike.” Authorities said in a complaint filled in court that Avenatti and another person threatened to release damaging information about Nike if the company “did not agree to make multi-million dollar payments” to Avenatti and an unnamed co-conspirator. Avenatti “threatened to hold a press conference on the eve of Nike’s quarterly earnings call and the start of the annual (NCAA) tournament at which he would announce allegations of misconduct by employees of Nike,” prosecutors said.  “Avenatti stated that he would refrain from holding the press conference and harming Nike only if Nike made a payment of $1.5 million to a client of Avenatti’s in possession of information damaging to Nike... and agreed to ‘retain’ Avenatti and (the unnamed co-conspirator) to conduct an ‘internal investigation’ -- an investigation that Nike did not request.” Authorities said Avenatti told Nike’s attorneys in a phone call on Wednesday that, “I’ll go take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap ... I’m not (expletive) around.” Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles announced Monday they were charging Avenatti with wire and bank fraud in a separate case. Authorities plan to detail charges against him at a news conference scheduled for 2 p.m. EDT. Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • An Italian couple is under investigation after authorities say they performed a home circumcision on their 5-month-old son, causing the boy’s death.  The boy, whose parents are of Ghanian origin, was in critical condition when he was taken Friday night to a hospital in Scandiano in the province of Reggio Emilia, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported. He died overnight. >> Read more trending news This weekend’s death is not the first of a child who underwent an illegal circumcision in Italy. The BBC reported that a 2-year-old boy bled to death in December after undergoing a failed circumcision at a migrant center in the Roman suburb of Monterotondo.  The boy’s twin brother underwent the same surgery but survived after a stint in the intensive care unit.  In the December case, a 66-year-old man was charged with murder in the toddler’s death, the BBC reported.  The 2-year-old and his brother were born in Italy, but their parents were from Nigeria, according to the BBC. The man charged with killing the boy is an American of Libyan heritage.  The BBC reported that circumcision is unavailable in public health institutions. Italy’s Roman Catholic majority does not practice circumcision, but many of the country’s Muslim immigrants do.  Private clinics will perform the procedure, but the surgery can be costly. There are people willing to circumcise children for a fraction of the cost, the news agency reported.  In the December case, the procedure was performed at a refugee center run by the Monterotondo council and nonprofit group Arci. Arci officials condemned the incident in a Facebook post, in which they said in 2018, there should be “no sorcerers and midwives.” “The Monterotondo tragedy leaves the whole of Arci, starting with our Arci workers in Rome, sorrowful and upset,” the post read, as translated from Italian. One commenter argued for a near-complete ban on circumcision.   “Circumcision should be considered a sexual mutilation, apart from the few cases in which it is appropriate for medical reasons, and therefore prohibited and punished if practiced,” the woman, Claudia Lanzi, wrote.  Another woman, Barbara Pilati, asked how it is mutilation if it causes no damage. “It is made to children who cannot express their opinion,” Lanzi responded.  ANSA reported that between 4,000 and 5,000 immigrant children undergo circumcisions in Italy each year. About 35 percent of those procedures are done illegally.  Yassine Lafram, who heads the Bologna area’s Islamic community, condemned the fatal procedure on the infant Monday. “We learn of the terrible news of the death of a 5-month-old baby following an illegal circumcision with dismay,” Lafram told ANSA. “It’s a death that could certainly have been avoided and pains us deeply.”
  • Police opened an investigation Monday into a deadly officer-involved shooting in north Charlotte. >> Read more trending news Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney told WSOC-TV that officers responded just after 9 a.m. to the Burger King on Beatties Ford Road, near Interstate 85.  Dozens of police cruisers could be seen surrounding the fast-food restaurant, which was roped off with crime scene tape. Putney said officers responded to a call about an armed man at the business. The man gave employees an uneasy feeling, Putney said, so they called police. When officers arrived, they spotted the man outside the Burger King, according to Putney. Authorities said the man was still armed when officers arrived, and they repeatedly ordered him to drop the weapon. Putney said an officer felt there was a lethal threat and shot the man at least once. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His name has not been released. A witness told WSOC-TV the armed man had gotten into an argument with an employee inside the restaurant and that another man intervened and was assaulted by the suspect. Police have not confirmed that witness's account. Police said no officers were hurt. The shooting remains under investigation, and no other details have been released.
  • ORLANDO, Fla. - The trailer for the new movie, Lucy in the Sky,  portrays Natalie Portman as an astronaut struggling to readjust to life on Earth after seeing 'the whole universe.' The film is loosely based on real-life astronaut Lisa Nowak, who became embroiled in an affair with fellow astronaut Bill Oefelein. But when they broke up, and he began to date U.S. Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman, Nowak became enraged. She made national headlines when she drove 900 miles from Houston to Orlando and packed a trench coat, black wig, pepper spray, a BB gun, rope, trash bags and an 8-inch knife in an attempt to kidnap Shipman. Nowak was discharged from NASA and the Navy.

Washington Insider

  • A day after Congress was told the Mueller investigation had not found evidence of coordination or conspiracy involving Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 elections, a leading GOP Senator vowed to fully investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, arguing that President Donald Trump may have been the victim of overzealous investigators inside the Justice Department. 'The double standard here has been striking and quite frankly disappointing,' said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who told reporters at the Capitol on Monday morning that it's time to find out more about how the investigation began during the 2016 campaign, how it meshed with the probe into Hillary Clinton's emails, and whether there had been bias inside the Justice Department and FBI against President Trump. While Graham said he would conduct oversight via the Senate Judiciary Committee, the South Carolina Republican also said he wants a more formal review by the Justice Department, and U.S. Attorney General William Barr. 'What I want to do is see if he'll appoint a Special Counsel,' Graham said, as he argued that President Trump had been unfairly targeted. Graham said he would look at the role of former Attorney General Loretta Lynch - who tried to step back from the Clinton email investigation, which led to the broader involvement of former FBI Director James Comey. 'What was the conflict that made Loretta Lynch so unable to preside over the Clinton email investigation?' Graham asked. While Graham ticked off the boxes of a series of questions which have dominated conservative talk radio over the past two years, the ally of the President made clear he agreed with the Mueller report findings on one very key issue - that the Russians were responsible for the hacking of the Democratic Party in 2016. “It was the Russians - it wasn’t some 300 pound guy sitting on a bed somewhere,” Graham said, making reference to a quote by President Trump, who at times has rejected assertions that Russian Intelligence was responsible for the hacking of emails from Clinton campaign and DNC officials. Graham said he also wanted answers on how the Obama Administration handled the initial developments in the Russia investigation - which came during the 2016 campaign. 'Nobody went to President Trump to tell him, there may be some people in your orbit that are connected to the Russians and working with the Russians,' Graham said at a news conference. At the White House, President Trump kept his comments limited about the Mueller report, saying he would not oppose the release of the details of the report, if that’s what Attorney General Barr wants to do. Asked during an event in the Oval Office whether the Special Counsel had done his job honorably, Mr. Trump responded: 'Yes, he did.' “I wish it could have gone a lot sooner, a lot quicker,” the President added.