Olivia Jade Giannulli Says Mom Lori Loughlin Shouldered Weight of College Admissions Scandal

Bella Giannulli also revealed that her "first love" broke up with her four days after the national scandal broke in March 2019

Olivia Jade, Lori Loughlin and Bella Giannulli
Olivia Jade Giannulli with Lori Loughlin and her sister Bella Giannulli. Photo: Matt Baron/Shutterstock

The Giannulli sisters are addressing their family's involvement in the college admissions scandal.

During the Conversations with Olivia Jade podcast Monday, Olivia Jade and Bella Giannulli spoke for the first time together about their parents, Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, paying college admissions scam ringleader Rick Singer $500,000 to falsely designate the sisters as recruits to the University of Southern California crew team. After denying any wrongdoing for more than a year, the couple pleaded guilty to fraud charges in May 2020 and subsequently served jail sentences.

Defending their mother Loughlin, Olivia, 22, argued that the 57-year-old actress bore the brunt of the criticism in the highly-publicized case.

"Even though I also was getting dragged negatively, it didn't nearly affect me as much as seeing Mom having all this thrown on her," the YouTuber said. "She really took this whole thing on her back, solely. There are a lot of people that were in this case, and a lot of other parents, and I do not know one other person's name."

Protective of her parent, who she praised as "the most incredible mother in the world" with the "kindest heart," she defined the time as "frustrating."

"It caused a lot of anger within me when I would read stuff about her. And I think it's interesting that when I would read stuff about myself … it didn't nearly affect me the same way if I read it about our own mom," Olivia said.

Olivia Jade Giannulli and Isabella Rose Giannulli
Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images

Echoing similar sentiments, Bella, 23, explained she felt unable to escape the harsh glare of the spotlight during that time.

According to Loughlin and Mossimo's older daughter, there would be at least three cars of paparazzi waiting outside of their home every day, watching and waiting for activity.

"Anytime I would leave the house, the second you pull out of that driveway, there's a car … bumper to bumper, they are right behind you," she explained. "They will go to all extremes, they don't care who they will harm in the way, they just want to get the photo."

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Conversations with Olivia Jade
Wes Santos and Alex Gomez

Reflecting, Olivia said she in some ways regretted being so open on social media before the scandal hit. The beauty blogger famously said her parents "made" her go to college on the Zach Sang Show in 2019, and tweeted around the same time that YouTube was her "#1 passion," among other comments.

"I made myself public on YouTube before all of this happened, so then when [the scandal] was happening, I kind of signed up for it. I did post videos talking about things that I very much regret, and I was very open about my life," Olivia said.

Sharing another personal story, Bella said that the guy she had been seeing, her "first real love," dumped her four days after the scandal broke on March 12, 2019.

"It was really hard to go through a breakup and then also have something even bigger and honestly more important on top of it. Because all I wanted to do was cry and mourn my relationship and I couldn't," she said. "The only thing that helps you through, the healer, is time."

The sister's parents were both sentenced to prison after pleading guilty in May 2020 to the charges against them stemming from the scandal.

Loughlin started her prison sentence in October 2020 and served nearly two months before she was released from the federal correctional facility in December. Mossimo, meanwhile, was booked into federal prison on Nov. 19 and was released from home confinement in April, marking the end of his five-month sentence.

Last month, PEOPLE confirmed that Loughlin paid over $500,000 – the same amount she and her husband paid Singer – to cover tuition for two students at an unnamed university.

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