Dismissed Student Sues Georgetown As National Admission Scandal Grows
A Georgetown University undergraduate is suing the university after his father pleaded guilty to paying a bribe to help his son’s academic career in another example of the national college admissions scandal.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia accuses the university of depriving the student of his due process rights as he tried unsuccessfully to avoid potential discipline and expulsion.
Adam Semprevivo claims the university subjected him to an arbitrary and capricious disciplinary procedure. It also alleges a breach of contract.
The lawsuit seeks damages and injunctive relief against the dismissal.
“Georgetown has failed to conduct disciplinary proceedings in this case that comply with any notions of fundamental fairness,” the complaint said.
The same day the lawsuit was filed, the university notified Semprevivo and an unnamed second student that their admissions were being rescinded. They also are losing their college credits.
A statement from the university said, “Following the March 2019 indictments, Georgetown University began conducting a process of thoroughly reviewing the newly available information related to the alleged scheme, contacting current students who may have been involved and giving each individual student an opportunity to respond. Knowingly misrepresenting or falsifying credentials in an application can be cause for rescinding the admission of the student and dismissal from Georgetown.”
The Georgetown junior had offered to withdraw from the school if he could keep
his academic credits but university officials rejected the offer. They also planned to put unfavorable notations in his transcript.
His father is California businessman Stephen Semprevivo, who pleaded guilty this month in a Boston court to conspiring to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. He admitted to paying a consultant $400,000 to help get his son into Georgetown.
The consultant then allegedly paid off former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst, who helped Semprevivo’s admission to the university by claiming him as a recruit to the tennis team. Semprevivo did not play competitive tennis.
Similar allegations have been made against wealthy parents and celebrities nationwide recently in a wave of allegations that they paid admissions consultants who used bribes or falsified test answers to get their children into highly-rated schools.
Legal analysts said the chances for a successful lawsuit by Semprevivo or other persons accused of fraudulently seeking college admissions were small.
“I can’t see any basis” for the lawsuit, said former U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore during an interview on the Fox News Channel.
He added, “I don’t think there’s any question but that he should be expelled.”
Kisha M. Hebbon, a New Jersey-based attorney and former prosecutor, said Semprevivo’s claim that his due process rights were violated disappeared when he appeared to consent to his father’s bribery.
“I believe he lost that privilege,” Hebbon said.
Prosecutors said in their court filings that father and son Semprevivo submitted “fabricated representations” to Georgetown University about Adam’s “purported tennis experience.”
They included emails to the tennis coach and a university application essay that “falsely indicated that he played tennis during all four years of high school and was ranked in single and doubles tennis,” according to prosecutors.
The essay says in part, “When I walk into a room people will normally look up and make a comment about my height — I’m 6’5” — and ask me if I play basketball. With a smile, I nod my head, but also insist that the sport I put my most energy into is tennis.”
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