Commentary: Money and privilege get Felicity Huffman 14-day prison sentence

Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Commentary: Money and privilege get Felicity Huffman 14-day prison sentence
September 19
02:20 2019

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Cheating in anything is never good. You may think you are getting over but at some point, it will catch up with you. You will be caught and cooked! Taking shortcuts in life by cheating may seem cool at the time, but it will turn sour and cold in the long run.

It seems like we live in a time now when cheating almost becomes chic and fashionable. We do it and then simply move on to the next thing. When you get caught for the indiscretion, it almost always involves other people. Not only are you labeled because of it, your family members are scarred as well.

Speaking of cheating, why not ask Felicity Huffman about it. She has found herself in a mess. You remember her, don’t you? She was a star on the show Desperate Housewives and most recently was desperate to get her daughter’s SAT score inflated so she could enroll in the “right college.”

Huffman pleaded guilty and the judge in Massachusetts sentenced her to 14 days in jail. In addition, she received a fine of $30,000, 250 community service hours and a 1-year probation term. She has yet to serve her sentence, as the date of sentencing will be coming up soon.

There are multiple ways to look at this scandal. First and foremost, it is good that she admitted her wrongdoing. She came clean and probably avoided a longer period of incarceration. Reports say that the prosecution wanted a jail sentence of 30 days.

The evidence was not in her favor so rather than plead not guilty, she chose to save what little face she had left to save. It was a wise move on her part. You see Lori Loughlin, another star, is involved in a similar cheating scandal. She has chosen to plead not guilty. I believe she will be sorry for that decision. She is guilty and I believe a much longer prison sentence awaits her.

However, in my opinion, there is another side to this admissions-cheating fiasco. It involves class, privilege and educational pursuits. Felicity Huffman is rich and therefore hiring the best legal minds to work out an agreement wasn’t a problem. She didn’t need a GoFundMe account.

Being a celebrity helped her and her daughter; not knowing about the cheating also helped her. While some may take another view, some rich people can delay justice or never be brought to justice. They may lose their jobs but will never see the inside of a jail. Why not ask Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer and Kevin Spacey about being rich, famous and accused of a crime? These men have been embarrassed for life yet are multi-millionaires and are still roaming around the countryside.

The Huffman case was referenced to another case that happened a few years ago in Ohio. Kelly Williams-Bolar, a mother of two daughters, used her father’s address to enroll them in a better school district. Ms. Williams-Bolar was given a 10-day jail sentence, was ordered to perform 80 hours of community service, and given two years of probation. John Kasich, governor of Ohio in 2011, reduced the felony charge to a misdemeanor.

Education was the constant in both scenarios. Each mother wanted what was best for their daughters. Their strategies are what have been called into question. Huffman used money and privilege as a resource and Bolar-Williams used her father’s address.

The money, $15,000 to be exact, resulted in Huffman getting a two-week stay in jail. The address used by Williams-Bolar gave her a felony charge. It is clear that class and privilege were at play during the Huffman trial. Williams-Bolar had neither and was treated as such.

Justice bends toward the rich and the powerful in this country. If you disagree, that’s all right! How do we change it? Can we change it?

Over time, we have watched legal groups lobby for people who were sent to jail being innocent or whose sentences didn’t match the charge. These men and women have been sent to prison for months and years with justice being denied to them.

Justice is a term that has one definition, yet is administered in different ways.

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator and can be reached at

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