May 15, 2019 / 2:27 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 4-Georgetown to expel two students over U.S. college admissions bribery scandal

(Adds other schools and disciplinary actions)

By Jonathan Stempel

May 15 (Reuters) - Georgetown University said on Wednesday it plans to expel two students in connection with the sweeping U.S. college admissions bribery scandal.

The expulsions were announced several hours after one of the students, Adam Semprevivo, sued Georgetown over his treatment, including its refusal to let him transfer to another school and keep his academic credits.

Georgetown did not identify the expelled students or accuse them of wrongdoing. A lawyer for Semprevivo confirmed in an interview that the 21-year-old psychology major, who just completed his junior year, was one of them.

Fifty celebrities, business people, athletic coaches and others have been criminally charged in the scandal.

Wealthy parents have been accused of paying five- to seven-figure sums to win admission for their children at eight prestigious colleges including Stanford University, the University of Southern California and Yale University.

Prosecutors said the scheme involved embellishing many students’ athletic accomplishments, and cheating on the SAT college admissions exam.

Stanford expelled one student linked to the scandal last month, while Yale revoked another student’s admission in March.

No students have been criminally charged. Some of the 33 parents who have been charged have said they tried to shield their children from what they were doing.

Georgetown said knowingly misrepresenting or falsifying credentials in applications could be grounds for dismissal.

“Today, we informed two students of our intent to rescind their admission and dismiss them from Georgetown,” spokeswoman Meghan Dubyak said. “Each student case was addressed individually and each student was given multiple opportunities to respond and provide information to the university.”

PAYMENTS LINKED TO FORMER TENNIS COACH

Semprevivo had sued Georgetown early Wednesday morning, eight days after his father, Los Angeles executive Stephen Semprevivo, pleaded guilty in Boston to conspiring to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud.

Prosecutors said the father paid $400,000 to William “Rick” Singer, the California consultant at the center of the scandal, to help his son enter Georgetown as a tennis recruit.

Stephen Semprevivo was the third parent to plead guilty. Another parent, actress Felicity Huffman, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge on Monday.

David Kenner, a lawyer for Adam Semprevivo, said his client received a letter on Wednesday morning from Georgetown dean of admissions Charles Deacon announcing his expulsion and the rescission of his admission.

He said the rescission means Semprevivo, who spent the last semester studying in Prague, must forfeit his academic credits and 3.18 grade point average, and that his parents cannot recoup more than $200,000 of tuition.

“We’re going to file an amended complaint seeking additional remedies,” Kenner said. “It’s incredulous that the university changed its position from yesterday to today, with the only intervening action being the filing of the lawsuit.”

Prosecutors said Adam Semprevivo was among at least 12 students who former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst designated as tennis recruits from 2012 to 2018, in exchange for Ernst’s accepting more than $2.7 million of bribes from Singer.

Ernst left Georgetown in 2018. He pleaded not guilty in March to a racketeering conspiracy charge.

Semprevivo said he received “no assistance” from Singer on his high school grades or the SAT, and was unaware of his father’s actions until February.

He also said his high school transcripts showed his involvement on the school basketball team, but said nothing about tennis. Semprevivo never played tennis at Georgetown.

The case is Semprevivo v Georgetown University, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, No. 19-01400. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas, Bill Berkrot and Diane Craft)

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