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Celebrity Daughter Was on Yacht Owned By USC Board Chairman in Bahamas As College Scandal Broke

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he daughter of Lori Loughlin was literally lounging on Rick Caruso’s yacht in the Bahamas as news broke that the U.S. Justice Department had indicted her mother the former “Full House” actress in a far-reaching college admissions bribery scandal.

Olivia Jade Giannulli, who is alleged to have gained admission to the University of Southern California through fraud, learned about her mother’s indictment while on Spring Break with the daughter of Caruso, the chairman of the Board of Trustees at USC and a major powerbroker in Los Angeles.

“Caruso's daughter, Gianna, Olivia and several other friends were spending spring break in the area,” TMZ reported. The celebrity news site said Olivia returned to Los Angeles after hearing that her mother was surrendering to the FBI to face charges. Her father is fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli.

Olivia Jade, admitted as a rowing recruit though she does not play the sport, court papers said, has apparently spent much of her first year at USC making YouTube vlogs about her lifestyle. She made branded content with Amazon, Variety reported, such as this video, in which at one point the YouTube star with 1.2 million subscribers says, "This sounds sponsored, I swear it's not."

The paper mentioned brands that partnered with Olivia Jade, including Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs Beauty, Sephora, Smile Direct Club, TRESemmé, and others.

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[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]ealthy parents are charged with buying their kids’ way into some of the top universities in the country, including Stanford, Yale, Georgetown, UCLA, and others, by schemes that included photoshopping applicants’ faces on images of athletes and cheating the SATs.

In Los Angeles, Loughlin along with actress Felicity Huffman were arraigned on charges related to what’s being dubbed the largest college admissions scam in history.

USC sits under a cloud of scandal. Photo via Flickr/Creative Commons.
USC sits under a cloud of scandal. Photo via Flickr/Creative Commons.

Dozens of people were arrested in several cities. Loughlin faced a judge in federal court on Wednesday in downtown L.A. Eleven SoCal parents are facing charges, including Devin Sloane, founder of waterTalent, Jane Buckingham, of marketing agency Tendera, and Elisabeth Kimmel, recent owner of an AM talk station in San Diego. 

The scandal has sent shockwaves through the hyper-competitive college admissions market. For L.A. area educators who work with low-income or black and Latino students in public schools, the revelations especially stung.

Dr. Ron Lehavi, who teaches AP high school and community college history and politics at Valley College and Francis Polytechnic High School, says he and his students have known for years that “affirmative action” exists for the wealthy and connected. Yet, despite the odds, so many public, low-income students persevere and achieve.

“I have students who get close to perfect scores on the SATs, pass 15 AP tests with fives [highest score], they’re black and Latino, by the way, and sometimes they finish the community college courses before they finish the high school,” Lehavi told L.A. Taco.

“They do everything, amazing internships in the summer, groundbreaking scientific research … Yes, schools like Johns Hopkins and MIT and Cal-Tech are open to them, but schools like Princeton are not, because a third of the new admits are legacy admits.”

Other college counselors and advisors in public education systems echoed the sentiments. In the Valley, Dr. Lehavi said his students were stewing with frustration.

"There's extreme anger and dismay, because even though this has been going on for hundreds of years, everyone knows who gets into college by true merit, which is our students, and who gets in buying their way through, which is basically Jared Kushner, people like that," he said.

"He couldn't pass one of my classes, he’s not intelligent enough."

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