Even though fellow actor Felicity Huffman and 13 other people implicated in the college bribery scandal have plead guilty in the case, Lori Loughlin is still refusing. After failing to enter a guilty plea after her initial court appearance in early April, the former Fuller House star now finds herself facing additional charges that can carry a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, and some insiders are claiming that Loughlin's refusal to plead guilty is because of her daughters.
Loughlin and husband Mossimo Gianulli are accused of paying almost $500,000 in bribes to the University of Southern California to designate their daughters as members of the crew team to ensure their entrance into the school. Now an insider tells PEOPLE that Loughlin is worried about what a guilty plea will mean for her daughters.
“She is very concerned about what a guilty plea would do to her daughters, who may not have grasped everything that was going on,” the source tells the magazing. “Yes, she can think about the public perception of her, but that’s nothing compared to what her daughters think of her. So that is something that has understandably made her less likely to enter a plea."
Huffman plead guilty last week after she was accused of paying $15,000 to boost her daughter's SAT scores to help her gain admission to college. "I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney's Office," Huffman said in a statement Monday. "I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done." Huffman also spoke of her daughter in her statement.
"My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her," she added. "This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty."
Loughlin failed to plead guilty to the initial charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and honest services mail fraud and subsequently found herself facing additional charges of conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering. Both those charges can carry a maximum prison term of 20 years each. A source told PEOPLE the actress refused to take the plea deal initially offered to her because she and Gianulli didn't want to serve jail time. “They weren’t ready to accept that,” the source claimed. “They’re really not seeing how serious this is.”
A source also claims that Loughlin is having a hard time admitting that what she and her husband did was, in fact, illegal. “It’s just taking some time for it to sink in that what she was allegedly doing could be considered illegal,” the source explained. “To her, it wasn’t egregious behavior. Was it entitled and perhaps selfish? Perhaps. But she didn’t see it as being a legal violation. From the beginning, she didn’t want to take a deal, because she felt that she hadn’t done anything that any mom wouldn’t have done if they had the means to do so. So this wasn’t her being obstinate; this was her truly not understanding the seriousness of the allegations.”
Both Isabella and Olivia, Lori's daughters, have been keeping a low profile since news of the scandal broke. Reports have surfaced that Olivia is blaming her mother for the negative impact the scandal has had on her career as a prominent YouTuber and entrepreneur.
"Olivia is devastated and completely embarrassed. She feels like she's lost nearly all of her friends because of this. She's barely speaking to her parents," a source told CNN. While Loughlin may have initially tried to protect her daughter by refusing the guilty plea, she may have done more harm to herself than good.