Michael Gaynor
Let's not crucify Lori Loughlin and her husband for ignorance
By Michael Gaynor
March 14, 2019

It appears that Loughlin was a "desperate mother," but a "desperate mother" is not "evil" and is unlikely to have "criminal intent."

When the college admissions scandal broke, actress Lori Loughlin became the face of it.

Talking heads passionately spoke of parents like Loughlin as "evil" and her alleged misbehavior as intolerable, even unforgivable.

Let's consider some facts.

Loughlin is the daughter of Lorellee and Joseph Roy Loughlin, a foreman for the New York Telephone Company.

Loughlin never attended college, much less graduated from college, so her daughters never could be legacy admissions.

Loughlin attended Oaks School #3 Elementary School in Oceanside, New York and graduated from Hauppauge High School.

Obviously Loughlin is neither a lawyer nor an accountant.

Presumably Loughlin relies on legal and accounting expertise when she makes contracts and files her income tax returns.

Wikipedia reports:

"After becoming interested in acting as a young child, Loughlin began her career at age 11 as a print model, recalling:

My mom had a friend that was going into Manhattan to meet with an agency for modeling. She was taking her teenage daughters in and she asked my mom if I wanted to go along. My mom reluctantly let me go, but I don't think she ever thought anything would come of it. And I went in and they handed me a contract and said, "We'll take you.""

"At 15, she was cast in the ABC soap opera The Edge of Night, playing the part of Jody Travis, an aspiring dancer, appearing in the series from 1980 to 1983. From 1983 to 1988, Loughlin appeared in a number of feature films and television guest spots.

"From 1988 to 1995, Loughlin was cast as Rebecca Donaldson, Danny Tanner's (Bob Saget) co-host and later Jesse Katsopolis's (John Stamos) wife in the ABC sitcom Full House. Initially set for a six-episode arc, she became a regular for the remainder of the series."

Loughlin is a "star," currently starring in Fuller House on Netflix and Garage Sale Mysteries on Hallmark as well as a wife of a successful businessman who did not attend college either and a mother of two daughters whom she loves so much that she said years ago on "The View" that the thought of them going to college made her cry.

ET reported that Loughlin and her husband allegedly paid $500,000 to have their two daughters – Isabella, 20, and Olivia, 19 – deemed as recruits for USC's crew team though they never actually participated in the sport.

Loughlin is not a "desperate housewife."

It appears, however, that Loughlin was a "desperate mother," but a "desperate mother" is not "evil" and is unlikely to have "criminal intent."

Loughlin and her husband obviously are wealthy, but apparently not wealthy enough to pay for a building for USC.

There is no college to which their daughters could apply to be legacy admissions because their parents did not attend and graduate from college and perhaps their parents felt that they let their daughters down in that regard and were desperate to make up for it.

In addition, their daughters are white, so affirmative action hurts, instead of helps, their chances of admission.

Time will tell what Loughlin and her husband specifically did and did not do, but the following posts on Loughlin's Facebook page show a rush to judgment:

"whoa, just heard the news about cheating on college entrance exams and you were named.....you have a lot of 'splainin' to do," one commenter wrote.

"As if Celebrities don't have enough privilege, they take spaces away from College applicants who have worked for their achievements! Criminal!" another said.

"I thought you were one of the 'good' ones," another wrote. "You're just like the rest of the actors/actresses-fake, a socialist and will spend whatever it takes to get what you want without having to work hard for it! You're a disgrace!!!

"Loughlin and her husband are not "evil," and envy of their wealth, success and celebrity is to be deplored.

Also,Loughlin is NOT an heiress.

Loughlin earned her money and surely has paid plenty of tax (and should pay more if she took a tax deduction to which she was not entitled).

Loughlin and her husband allegedly chose to spend $500,000 of their savings in pursuit of college admission for their daughters, and that's become a huge problem for them.

Fox News reported (www.foxnews.com/entertainment/lori-loughlin-felicity-huffman-no-statements-college-admissions-scandal-careers-uncertain):

"Eric Schiffer, who is a brand specialist but has not worked either Loughlin or actress Felicity Huffman, told Fox News about how they can salvage their careers and reputations.

"While Schiffer acknowledged in the 'short term,' Loughlin and Huffman's TV and movie projects will likely suffer as others in Hollywood will 'reject what they did' and will consider 'how [their] own children had to play by the rules.'"

"But long term, the actresses can survive this if they 'focus on rebuilding trust in their communities.'"

"'I think the studios and production companies will look at this incident as boneheaded and depending on the outcome of the criminal case, they may sever ties,' Schiffer told us.

"'When you take [the actresses'] brands that are known for trust and you drop them into an avalanche of evil intent and criminality, it will haunt them because there's an inconsistency,' Schiffer added. 'It will take time before their reputations recover.'"

Which is it – "boneheaded" or "evil intent and criminality"?

They are NOT synonymous.

Merriam-Webster (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bonehead) lists the following synonyms for "boneheaed": "airheaded, birdbrained, boneheaded, braindead, brainless, bubbleheaded, chuckleheaded, dense, dim, dimwitted, doltish, dopey (also dopy), dorky [slang],dull, dumb, dunderheaded, empty-headed, fatuous, gormless [chieflyBritish], half-witted, knuckleheaded, lamebrain (or lamebrained), lunkheaded, mindless, oafish, obtuse, opaque, pinheaded, senseless, simple, slow, slow-witted, soft, softheaded, stupid, thick, thickwitted, thickheaded, unintelligent, unsmart, vacuous, weak-minded, witless."

Neither "evil" nor "criminal" is in that long list of synonyms.

Loughlin and her husband allegedly violated criminal law, but so far there's no evidence of evil intention.

Their goal obviously was to help their daughters.


Did Loughlin and her husband have "criminal intent" provable beyond reasonable doubt?

Let's not rush to judgment.

Let's examine "criminal intent."

From https://thelawdictionary.org/criminal-intent/:

"Criminal Intent: Overview"

"Criminal intent is a necessary component of a 'conventional' crime and involves a conscious decision on the part of one party to injure or deprive another. It is one of three categories of 'mens rea,' the basis for the establishment of guilt in a criminal case. There are multiple shades of criminal intent that may be applied in situations ranging from outright premeditation to spontaneous action.

"It is possible to establish criminal intent even when a crime is not premeditated. Individuals who commit a crime spontaneously may still understand that their actions will cause harm to another party and contravene existing criminal law. In other words, an individual that takes or withholds action with the knowledge that such behavior will lead to the commission of a crime can be said to possess criminal intent.

"Criminal Intent: What You Should Know

"While criminal intent is a necessary component of mens rea in virtually every modern legal system, its particulars may vary between jurisdictions. There often exists a distinction between 'basic intent' and 'specific intent.'

"Since it requires a lighter burden of proof, the former is used more often to establish criminal intent. For instance, an individual who strikes a pedestrian crossing the street in a marked crosswalk can be said to have exhibited 'basic intent' whether or not they intended to cause the pedestrian harm. There are two reasons for this. First, the driver may have ignored state and local law requiring vehicles to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Absent such laws, the driver either failed to pay close attention to the road ahead or assumed that the pedestrian would be able to avoid their oncoming vehicle. In either case, the driver abdicated their legal responsibility to take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of others on the road.

"'Specific intent' is invoked less frequently and often applies to cases in which the accused intends to commit a crime but has not yet done so. It may be used to justify preventive detentions associated with terrorism, treason or sabotage. For instance, an individual who has communicated his intent to assassinate an official may be judged to exhibit specific intent on the basis of his or her pronouncements.

"Criminal intent may be further categorized as either 'direct' or 'oblique.' Defined as a desire to commit a specific act in the expectation that it will result in a specific outcome, the former may be used to prove premeditation. For instance, an individual who purchases a firearm and uses it in a mugging exhibits direct intent to threaten another with deadly force."By contrast, 'oblique' intent may be used to establish guilt in cases that involve unintended consequences. An individual who undertakes a specific action with the knowledge that it may cause certain consequences can be said to have oblique intent. For instance, an individual who injures someones by firing a gun into the air near a crowd may be held responsible for that injury despite a lack of direct intent to cause harm."

Even if Loughlin and her husband paid $500,000 in pursuit of their daughters' colleges and admissions, they may well have been focused entirely on their daughters and not giving a thought to possible harm to others, much less having made "a conscious decision...to injure or deprive another."

After all, it's impossible that they could have had an intention to injure or deprive anyone in particular.

If not, who?

They did not fire a gun into the air near a crowd.They allegedly made a payment of $500,000 for college admissions help for their daughters.

Prosecutors should realize that a jury will not presume that they are guilty and may end up concluding that they were targeted for their celebrity.

© Michael Gaynor


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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