“One of the hardest things I’ve had to face after my arrest is when my daughter found out what I had done and she said to me, ‘I don’t know who you are anymore, Mom,'” the Desperate Housewives star tearfully recalled before she was sentenced to 14 days in jail.
“And then she broke down and asked, ‘Why didn’t you believe in me? Why didn’t you think I could do it on my own?’ I had no adequate answer for her then. I have no adequate answer for her now. I can only say, I am so sorry, Sophia. I was frightened, I was stupid, and I was so wrong.”
Huffman recalled the 20-minute drive to the testing center with Sophia sitting next to her. The girl was unaware that Huffman had arranged a $15,000 payment to an admissions consultant to correct and improve her daughter’s SAT test scores after the fact.
On the way Sophia asked if, after taking the test, the two of them could go for ice cream, Huffman told the judge. “As we made plans, I kept saying to myself ‘turn around, turn around, turn around.’ To my eternal shame, I didn’t.”
“I am profoundly ashamed of what I have done,” Huffman told Judge Indira Talwani in a federal courtroom in Boston. ” In trying to help my daughter, I have inflicted more damage than I could ever imagine. I now see all the things that led me down this path, but ultimately none of the reasons matter. Because at the end of the day, I had a choice. I could have said no.”
“I now realize with my mothering, love and truth must go hand in hand. I see that my love coming at the expense of truth is not real love.”
“I take full responsibility for my actions, as a first step in making amends for my crime,” she said.”
• For more on Felicity Huffman and the college admissions scandal, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.
In addition to the 14 days incarceration, the judge fined the 56-year-old Huffman $30,000 and placed her on supervised release for one year. She also will have to do 250 hours of community service.
In a written statement prepared for the judge, Huffman said:
“I accept the court’s decision today without reservation. I have always been prepared to accept whatever punishment Judge Talwani imposed. I broke the law. I have admitted that and I pleaded guilty to this crime. There are no excuses or justifications for my actions. Period.”
The statement continued: “I would like to apologize again to my daughter, my husband, my family and the educational community for my actions. And I especially want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices supporting their children.”
“I have learned a lot over the last six months about my flaws as a person. My goal now is to serve the sentence that the court has given me. I look forward to doing my community service hours and making a positive impact on my community. I also plan to continue making contributions wherever I can well after those service hours are completed.”
“I can promise you that in the months and years to come that I will try and live a more honest life, serve as a better role model for my daughters and family and continue to contribute my time and energies wherever I am needed.”
“My hope now is that my family, my friends and my community will forgive me for my actions.”
Huffman arrived in court holding the hand of her husband, actor William H. Macy, whose eyes welled up with tears as she spoke in court.
After the sentence was handed down, Macy walked over to the defendant’s table and rubbed Huffman’s shoulders and hugged her from behind. Huffman reached up and held his hand.
Huffman must begin her incarceration within 60 days, said the judge, who will recommend where she serves her sentence. Martin Murphy, Huffman’s attorney, asked the judge that Huffman be allowed to serve her time in a Dublin, California, correctional facility near her home.
Huffman and fellow actress Lori Loughlin were among 50 people named March 12 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts as participants in the cheating scandal. The two actresses, along with coaches, admissions counselors, parents, and Loughlin’s husband, fashion designer J. Mossimo Giannulli, were indicted on accusations of falsifying SAT scores and lying about the athletic skills of student applicants, among other alleged crimes.
Loughlin and Giannulli have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors said in a criminal complaint that Huffman had paid $15,000 to admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer and his nonprofit organization, Key Worldwide Foundation (“KWF”), which prosecutors said was actually a front for accepting bribes. Singer then facilitated cheating on Huffman’s daughter’s SAT test by having a proctor correct the teen’s answers after the fact.
Huffman discussed the scheme in a phone call with Singer that was recorded by investigators.
In an emotional letter to the judge prior to her sentencing, Huffman said it was “desperation to be a good mother” that led her to pay the funds to fake her daughter’s SAT scores — and she’ll feel “utter shame” for the rest of her life.