Marilyn Flynn was Dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California for 21 years, until 2018. She has won awards in social work education – at USC and nationally, including an honor for President Obama’s volunteerism.
On Wednesday, she was charged with federal charges of conspiracy, bribery, honest service mail fraud and 15 counts of honest service wire fraud.
The alleged ploy in brief: Flynn got a politician’s son admitted to a graduate program, awarded him a full scholarship, and ultimately got a job at USC. And the son was at the time accused of sexual harassment, which she allegedly covered up.
In return, Flynn received contracts from the politician to “bring the school millions of dollars in new income,” according to the Department of Justice. The politician – Mark Ridley-Thomas, then a member of the Los Angeles County board of directors – has also been charged.
This is the latest scandal to come to USC and looks modest in comparison to the next, a much larger admissions corruption scandal that is still unfolding at the university and involves many administrators and dozens of parents and students. This scandal has involved elite universities across the country, but USC has been implicated more than any other institution for letting in unqualified students on the basis of bribes, false records as star athletes and inflated SAT or ACT scores.
The last few years have also seen a scandal involving a former university gynecologist, George Tyndall. Tyndall was the only full-time gynecologist at the university’s student health clinic from 1989 to 2016, treating approximately 17,000 women. He was charged with improperly touching students and taking photos of students’ genitals. USC has agreed to pay its former patients $ 1.1 billion, the largest payment for higher education sexual abuse.
And in 2017, USC fired its former dean of medical school Carmen Puliafito, after a Los Angeles Times the investigation documented not only his alleged excessive drug use, but also his alleged empowerment of other addicts with whom he dated.
Flynn disputes the charges. His lawyer did not respond to a phone call or email, but told the Los Angeles Times that Flynn “did not commit any crime, and we believe the evidence in this case will ultimately support that conclusion.” The lawyer also described Flynn as a seasoned academic who “has worked tirelessly for the improvement and enhancement of the welfare network in Los Angeles and across the country.”
USC issued a statement saying, “When the university learned in the summer of 2018 of the $ 100,000 payment mentioned in the indictment, the university disclosed the matter to the US attorney’s office and fully cooperated since. Marilyn Flynn has not been employed by the university since September 2018. We will continue to cooperate with the US Attorney’s Office and must limit comments as this is an ongoing criminal case. $ 100,000 would be a payment from the university, under Flynn’s direction, to a nonprofit group controlled by Ridley-Thomas.)
The indictment reads: “Under the leadership of the accused Flynn, the school of social work faced a multi-million dollar budget deficit in or around 2017 and 2018, which threatened the viability of the school, as well as the deanship and reputation of the accused Flynn in the field of social work. Defendant Flynn was removed from his position as dean of the Social Work School around June 2018 and resigned from the ‘university around September 2018. »
When she left her deanship, USC announced that her departure was to serve as a “special advisor” to the provost’s office.
USC policy, according to the indictment, specifically prohibited faculty members from “applying for degrees in the same department or program in which they simultaneously held a professorship by virtue of a potential conflict of interest ”. Flynn allegedly ignored this policy when she not only admitted the politician’s son but also arranged for him to teach.
The accused, according to the indictment, “would take steps to disguise, cover up and cover up the bribes, bribes and other benefits that the accused Ridley-Thomas received from the accused Flynn and other university officials, including by: (1) hiding official acts which the defendant Ridley-Thomas agreed to and performed in return for direct and indirect financial benefits from the defendant Flynn and d ‘other university officials; (2) falsify in a letter the nature and purpose of the defendant Ridley-Thomas’ payment of $ 100,000 to the school of work company; (3) provide false information to those responsible for the university about the purpose and timing of the university’s $ 100,000 payment to Association B; and (4) withhold material facts from university officials about the purpose and timing of the $ 100,000 payment from the university to the association B. “
Acting US attorney Tracy L. Wilkison said: “The corrupt activities alleged in the indictment were facilitated by the senior administrator of a major university whose desire for funding has apparently supplanted them. notions of integrity and fair play.