Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal
Matthew Modine in Netflix's "Operation Varsity Blues."
  • A private equity executive is suing Netflix for defamation after the release of "Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal."
  • John B. Wilson is awaiting trial and pleaded not guilty during the publicized federal case.
  • Wilson is accused of bribing officials at Harvard, Stanford, and USC to secure his children's admissions.
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A private equity executive accused of bribing Harvard, Stanford, and USC officials to fashion his children as recruited athletes has sued Netflix for defamation over his portrayal in a documentary about the college admissions scandal.

John B. Wilson is awaiting trial and pleaded not guilty during the publicized federal case.

On Tuesday, he sued the streaming giant for defamation, accusing Netflix of portraying him as an accomplice in its documentary "Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal."

Operation Varsity Blues was the code name for a federal investigation into Rick Singer, a college admissions counselor who pleaded guilty to fabricating all or some parts of college applications for more than 750 students. Singer cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigations after being caught, and helped bring charges against 53 parents accused of offering Singer "donations" in exchange for his help in boosting their children's' applications. In many cases, Singer actually fabricated sports careers or enhanced test scores.

Wealthy parents indicted in the scheme included actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli and actress Felicity Huffman. All three pleaded guilty and were sentenced to time in prison.

Wilson filed the lawsuit in Superior Court in Essex County, Massachusetts, contending that his children legitimately gained entrance to the universities they attended.

"The Wilson family has been subjected to multiple instances of unfair and inaccurate reporting," the lawsuit said. "In recent days, however, they have been forced to endure the ultimate destruction of their reputations in the eyes of more than 200 million global Netflix subscribers."

"Mr. Wilson made clear that Mr. Wilson and his children could not simply be grouped into a narrative about the many individuals who, unlike Mr. Wilson, have pled guilty to committing crimes," the lawsuit continued. "Among other things, the Wilsons made clear to Defendants that Mr. Wilson's son was a real and talented water polo player who was part of the United States Olympic development program, that his daughters had 99th percentile test scores based on tests that they themselves took, and other publicly available exculpatory information, all of which the Wilsons provided to Defendants."

The lawsuit includes a photo of Wilson's son Johnny taken from the San Jose Mercury News competing in the West Bay Area League swimming championships in 2013, where he won first place in the butterfly.

While Wilson does not deny making donations to Singer, he said the donations were made "in order to assist with (but not guarantee) the admission of his very qualified children to their preferred universities."

According to the press release accompanying Wilson's lawsuit seen by Bloomberg, Wilson's lawyers claimed that the film gives "the false and defamatory impression that the Wilsons engaged in conduct to which others have pled guilty such as having a non-athlete child apply to college as an athlete, photo-shopping pictures to fake their athleticism, and having others take college admissions tests for their children."

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