Son of Parenting Book Author Who Was Arrested as Part of Alleged College Cheating Scam Speaks Out
Jane Buckingham allegedly conspired to have a professional test taker from Florida take the ACT for her son Jack in July 2018
Jack Buckingham is speaking out about his mother’s alleged decision to get him into college via a bribery scam.
Despite being advised not to speak on the matter, the son of Beverly Hills-based marketing CEO and author Jane Buckingham apologized in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday for being “unknowingly involved” with the alleged nationwide scheme.
Jack also said that he hopes the alleged incident, which saw his parenting author mom be charged with conspiring to cheat on her son’s ACT exam, will change the future of college admission processes.
“I know there are millions of kids out there both wealthy and less fortunate who grind their ass off just to have a shot at the college of their dreams,” he told the publication. “I am upset that I was unknowingly involved in a large scheme that helps give kids who may not work as hard as others an advantage over those who truly deserve those spots.”
“For that, I am sorry, though I know my word does not mean much to many people at the moment,” he continued. “While the situation I am going through is not a pleasant one, I take comfort in the fact that this might help finally cut down on money and wealth being such a heavy factor in college admissions.”
“Instead, I hope colleges may prioritize an applicants’ character, intellect, and other qualities over everything else,” he finished, adding, “It was probably not a smart idea to say anything but I needed to get that off my chest.”
Federal court records unsealed Tuesday in Boston named 50 people as part of the alleged nationwide scheme, including Jane, Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman and Fuller House actress Lori Loughlin.
According to the criminal complaint documents, the mother of two allegedly conspired with indicted plot organizer William Singer to have a professional test taker from Florida take the ACT for her son in July 2018. In exchange for his services, Jane agreed to make a $50,000 “charitable donation,” the document states.
“I know this is craziness, I know it is,” she wrote to Singer, in a conversation outlined in court papers. “I need you to get him into USC, and then I need you to cure cancer and [make peace] in the Middle East.”
Documents also allege Jane sent a handwriting sample from her son so that the test taker could mimic his penmanship. “He has not great writing,” Jane said, “Good luck with this.”
While it is not clear where Jack went to college, he allegedly received a score of 35 on the exam, according to documents. Jane was happy with the results and told the adviser, “[I’d] probably like to do the same thing with [my daughter].”
A rep for Jane did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Jane is the president of boutique marketing and media consulting firm Trendera, which lists numerous Fortune 500 companies as clients. As an author, she’s written six books and had pieces published in Glamour and Cosmopolitan.
Three of those books include a series of Modern Girl advice publications called The Modern Girl’s Guide to Sticky Situations (released in 2010), The Modern Girl’s Guide to Life and The Modern Girl’s Guide to Motherhood (both released in 2009).
Her Harper Collins author bio boasts that she was once named by Elle as “one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Hollywood.”
She’s spent time in front of the camera as well, with appearances on The View, Today, Good Morning America, 60 Minutes and The Oprah Winfrey Show. From 2005 to 2006, Jane hosted the Style Network’s series The Modern Girl’s Guide to Life (based on her book). And in 2015, she led an ABC Family series titled Job or No Job — in which she guided three young hopefuls as they navigated the career interview process and helped them land their dream gigs.
Jane shares Jack and daughter Lilia with bestselling business author and ex-husband Marcus Buckingham.
While Jack made the decision to speak out about the specific situation on Wednesday, his influencer sister kept things general in a series of tweets this week that thanked her followers for their support.
“hello beautiful people. thank u for your support. i love u all,” the high school sophomore tweeted on Wednesday.
Two days earlier, Lilia wrote, “i love my friends”
Besides the tweets, she has yet to publicly comment on her mother’s alleged involvement with the cheating scandal.
Jack, meanwhile, has deleted his Twitter account to steer clear of negative comments online.
“I am deactivating my Twitter account due to trying to avoid getting extra hate,” he told THR.
In addition to parents and exam administrators, athletic coaches from Yale, Stanford, the University of Southern California, Wake Forest and Georgetown (among others) are also implicated in the scheme.
The widespread effort was made by wealthy families to get their children into top colleges by falsifying SAT scores, lying about their athletic skills, and more, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.
Some individuals named in the court documents allegedly paid bribes of up to $6 million to get their children into these elite colleges, according to federal prosecutors.
Admissions to the schools mentioned in the complaint are extremely competitive: For first-time, full-time undergraduates, only 5 percent of applicants get into Stanford, 7 percent get into Yale, 17 percent get into Georgetown, 18 percent get into the University of Southern California and 29 percent get into Wake Forest, according to the U.S. Department of Education.