A private equity executive has filed a defamation lawsuit against Netflix over their new documentary about the college admissions scandal
John B. Wilson, 61, has been charged with filing a false tax return, money laundering conspiracy, and federal programs bribery in relation to the scandal, which came to light in March 2019 following a widespread FBI investigation.
The probe – known as Operation Varsity Blues – resulted in charges against 53 wealthy parents of college applicants. They were accused of paying William Rick Singer to inflate entrance exam test scores and bribe college officials at elite universities.
Last month, Netflix released a feature-length documentary about the investigation titled ”Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal’.
Wilson is mentioned in the film, and it also features a re-enactment of his arrest.
The Boston-based businessman has been accused of paying Singer $220,000 to help his son get accepted into the University of Southern California as a water polo player. He is also accused of paying Singer $1.5 million to help his twin daughters receive admission into Harvard and Stanford respectively.
In 2019, Wilson was charged alongside other wealthy parents including Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, both of whom have already served jail time.
Wilson, however, has pleaded not guilty to his charges, saying his three children were admitted to the elite colleges on their own merit.
He is currently awaiting trial and filed the defamation suit against Netflix in a Massachusetts court on Tuesday.
John B. Wilson, 61, has been charged with filing a false tax return, money laundering conspiracy, and federal programs bribery in relation to the scandal, which came to light in March 2019 following a widespread FBI investigation. He is pictured arriving at court with his wife Leslie in April 2019
Wilson is mentioned in the film, and it also features a re-enactment of his arrest (pictured)
Netflix released the feature-length documentary to its subscribers last month
‘The Wilson family has been subjected to multiple instances of unfair and inaccurate reporting,’ the suit – which has been obtained by Business Insider – stated.
‘In recent days, however, they have been forced to endure the ultimate destruction of their reputations in the eyes of more than 200 million global Netflix subscribers.’
‘The Wilsons made clear to Defendants that Mr. Wilson’s son was a real and talented water polo player who was part of the United States Olympic development program, [and] that his daughters had 99th percentile test scores based on tests that they themselves took.’
However, Wilson does not deny paying money to Singer, who he believed was a ‘highly reputable college admissions counselor’.
Wilson says the thought the money he paid Singer classified as ‘legitimate donations, in order to assist with (but not guarantee) the admission of his very qualified children to their preferred universities’.
William Rick Singer has been named as the mastermind of the college admissions scandal. Wealthy parents purportedly paid him millions to inflate their children’s entrance exam test scores and bribe college officials at elite universities.
The Netflix documentary includes reenactments of alleged events. Actor Matthew Modine is pictured above playing Singer in the film
In 2019, Wilson was charged alongside other wealthy parents including Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, both of whom have already served jail time
Wilson’s attorney, Howard Cooper, told Bloomberg that his client has taken polygraph testing which proves his innocence.
He even provided such evidence to Netflix before they released their film.
Cooper says Wilson’s inclusion in the documentary gives“the false and defamatory impression that the Wilsons engaged in conduct to which others have pled guilty such as having a non-athlete child apply to college as an athlete, photo-shopping pictures to fake their athleticism, and having others take college admissions tests for their children.’
It is unclear how much money Wilson is seeking in damages from the streaming service.
The wealthy businessman founded equity firm Hyannis Port Capital and is a former executive at both Staples Inc. and Bain & Co.
It is unclear how much money Wilson is seeking in damages from the streaming service over the film