Actress Felicity Huffman told a US judge on Friday (local time) that she arranged to cheat on her daughter's exam out of a misguided belief she was giving her daughter a "fair shot" at college acceptance.
Huffman pleaded guilty in April to paying US$15,000 to consultant Rick Singer in order to boost her daughter's SAT result. She is due to be sentenced next Friday in Boston.
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Federal prosecutors have lowered the term they are seeking to one month in custody, while Huffman's defence lawyers are asking that she be sentenced to probation and community service.
"Her efforts weren't driven by need or desperation, but by a sense of entitlement, or at least moral cluelessness, facilitated by wealth and insularity," the prosecution wrote. "Millions of parents send their kids to college every year. All of them care as much as she does about their children's fortunes. But they don't buy fake SAT scores and joke about it... along the way."
In a letter to the court, Huffman said her actions were motivated by concern her daughter's learning disability would prevent her from attending college to study acting.
She said when her daughter found out about the cheating, she cried and asked, "Why didn't you believe in me? Why didn't you think I could do it on my own?"
"In my blind panic, I have done the exact thing that I was desperate to avoid," she wrote. "I have compromised my daughter's future, the wholeness of my family and my own integrity... I have deep and abiding shame over what I have done."
The prosecutors argued that Huffman knew that by cheating on the SAT, she was depriving another student who did not cheat. They also said her actions cast doubt on the college admissions process, and on the legitimacy of learning disabilities, despite the privileges she and her daughter already enjoyed.
"She could buy her daughter every conceivable legitimate advantage, introduce her to any number of useful personal connections, and give her a profound leg up on the competition simply because she would be applying to college as the daughter of a movie star," the prosecutors wrote.