The “Gyp Watson” Defense

The underappreciated musical comedy Destry Rides Again has a delightful production number in Act II, “Are you ready, Gyp Watson?”. In it the argument is made that the accused, Gyp Watson, could not possibly be guilty, because “he ain’t got the brains to be bad”.

At first glance that appears to be the defense that Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are making in the college admissions bribery scandal that has been in the news lately. From Yahoo Entertainment:

Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli didn’t fully grasp that their alleged bribery in the college admissions scandal was illegal, a source familiar with the case tells PEOPLE.

“You read the complaint and they look like criminal masterminds,” the source tells PEOPLE. “But they really didn’t know the legalities of what was going on. They’re not lawyers and they’re not experts. They were parents who simply wanted to make sure that their daughters got into a good school.”

The source tells PEOPLE that Loughlin and Giannulli truly believed that their actions were comparable to those of other parents who take extraordinary steps to help their their children get into upper-tier colleges.

“Calling in favors, donating money to the alumni association, hiring consultants. Those are all things that parents do,” says the source. “And so they gave money to this consultant, not entirely knowing everything that was going to be done. When it all fell apart, nobody was as surprised as they were that they were in trouble.”

The source continues, “She never intended to break any laws, and if she did, it was inadvertent.”

I don’t think that’s quite as loopy as it sounds. Under California law bribery requires intent. If they did not intentionally break the law, there is no crime.

We could actually see the situation in which Felicity Huffman does time for paying $15,000 and pleading guilty while Loughlin and her husband who paid $500,0000 skate by pleading innocent an claiming ignorance.

2 comments… add one
  • PD Shaw Link

    I get your point, but it seems like Loughlin’s crime stood out as involving her child (or children) in concealing that she was not really on the rowing team. There was continuing subterfuge, such that her ignorance is not going to be plausible. Maybe some other parent might have a more credible argument.

  • TastyBits Link

    It would not surprise me that the Loughlins and others did not think it was a crime. Actually, I have a hard time seeing the crime.

    I am shocked, shocked to find a bunch of rich people spending a lot of money to get something that I cannot afford.

    Likewise, I am shocked, shocked to find that having famous and powerful friends makes 16 felony counts disappear.

    Membership has its privileges.

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