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Buckley School Whistleblower Stumbled Onto Rick Singer's Fake College Applications Long Before Admissions Scandal

SHERMAN OAKS (CBSLA) – Back in 2017, a counselor at the private Buckley School in Sherman Oaks uncovered a serious lie on a student's college applications that was later linked to the mastermind behind the nationwide college admissions scandal, according to a report in Vanity Fair Wednesday.

The Buckley School
The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks. July 31, 2019. (CBS2)

In December 2017, Julie Taylor-Vaz, a Buckley School guidance counselor, learned that a Buckley student identified as "Eliza" Bass - a pseudonym given by Vanity Fair - had been accepted to Tulane University, Georgetown and Loyola Marymount as an "African-American tennis whiz, ranked in the Top 10 in California," according to the report.

One problem: Bass is white and did not play competitive tennis. Taylor-Vaz alerted her superiors and notified all three schools, Vanity Fair reports. Eliza was allowed to pull her applications and reapply.

According to Vanity Fair, Eliza's father, Adam Bass, a member of the Buckley School Board, initially denied that he had used an outside admissions consultant before finally admitting to Buckley that his family had hired Rick Singer, the Newport Beach man who became infamous in March for spearheading the admissions scandal which netted the arrests of at least 50 parents, college coaches and testing administrators, including actresses Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman.

Adam Bass claimed that one of Singer's employees had changed all the information on his daughter's college applications without his family's knowledge, a source told Vanity Fair. Bass has not yet been charged in the admissions scandal.

However, 53-year-old Devin Sloane, whose son attended Buckley, plead guilty in May to paying Singer $250,000 to get his son admitted to USC as a water polo recruit.

The Bass family and the Buckley School provided CBS News the following statements Wednesday:

Bass Family Statement:

"Like thousands of families, the Bass Family engaged Rick Singer's company for college counseling services and to help their daughter with her college applications. They were stunned to learn that Mr. Singer and his company submitted inaccurate information on some of their daughter's applications, none of which related to her test scores or academic record. The family was completely unaware that Mr. Singer included false information on their daughter's college applications until December 8, 2017, when Mr. Singer asked their daughter to lie to Georgetown about being a tennis player and she refused. The Bass family was furious and upon learning more about Mr. Singer's wrongdoing over the course of that weekend, they immediately began contacting schools to supply them with accurate information. They made no payments or donations to any college, athletic program or any coach, either directly or indirectly, and are not the targets of any on-going investigation."

Buckley School Statement:

"Out of respect for privacy, we cannot discuss the details of individual students or any conversations concerning their grades or college admissions. We are proud of our entire faculty and staff, who follow the highest standards of ethical conduct and teach students the Buckley Commitment of Honesty, Loyalty, Kindness, Respect, Self-Reliance, and Self-Discipline. We are welcoming a new head of school this year and are focused on what makes Buckley a premier independent school, which includes inspiring teachers and innovative programs that encourage students to reach their fullest potential."

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