The college admissions scandal that broke in 2019 turned a lot of heads, considering that among the parents implicated in the bribery scheme were some celebrity parents like actors Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman. It's the sort of drama that seems tailor made for a movie of its own, so it's no shock that multiple films have already been made about the events. The most recent is Netflix's Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal, but now that movie has led to even more legal issues, as one of the people portrayed in the movie has now sued Netflix for defamation.
John B. Wilson is a private equity and real estate executive who has pled not guilty to charges of bribery and fraud in connection to the scandal and is currently awaiting trial. Because Wilson is proclaiming his innocence, his lawsuit claims, according to Bloomberg, that Wilson and his family have been "forced to endure the ultimate destruction of their reputations in the eyes of more than 200 million global Netflix subscribers," as a result of the new film.
According to the report, Wilson's lawyers actually met with Netflix prior to the film's release and presented the streaming giant with evidence of Wilson's innocence, including a polygraph test that he passed, and evidence that Wilson's three children were who they appeared to be. That the son was a star athlete, who would go on to join the USC water polo team, and that Wilson's daughters both scored exceedingly well on their college admissions exams.
While the college admissions scandal has revealed that some parents allegedly faked their children's performance in academics or athletics in order to appear to be more favorable applicants, Wilson claims his children's performance was legitimate. And as a result, he's suing for possible damage.
Netflix's movie Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal is a documentary that uses reenactments throughout where various key players are played by actors. This includes, according to text at the beginning of the film, dialogue taken from actual phone conversations between some of the alleged perpetrators. John B. Wilson is portrayed by actor Roger Rignack and is one of the first of the parents to be seen in the reenactments with Matthew Modine, who plays Rick Singer, who has admitted to masterminding the scheme.
Clearly Mr. Wilson is committed to proclaiming his innocence in this case. In addition to pleading not guilty to the charges directly related to the admissions scandal, when many others have already pled guilty and moved on, he's now willing to fight on a second legal front by filling this lawsuit against Netflix. We certainly have not heard the end of either case. Netflix has yet to make a public comment about the defamation suit, but it seems certain that we'll hear something from the streaming service before too long.