A pair of fraternal twins accused of cheating at a South Carolina medical school have been awarded $1.5 million — by a jury that agreed the sisters were “genetically identical.”
Kayla and Kelly Bingham filed a defamation lawsuit against the Medical University of South Carolina in 2017 — a year after the school criminally accused them during an exam. This was reported by Insider.
The pair sat at the same table but were “about four to five feet apart,” Kelly said, explaining that they couldn’t watch each other because their monitors blocked their view.
Two weeks after the test, school officials accused the twins of cheating.
“My mind raced. I was in tears and I couldn’t believe this was happening to us,” Kayla said of having to appear on the school’s honor board.
“There’s no way to process your emotions when you’re being accused of something you didn’t do,” she added to Insider.
The twins were informed that a professor monitoring their exams remotely suspected them of criminal involvement and told the proctor to “keep an extra eye” on them.
The monitor reported that he noticed the students nodding repeatedly as if they were exchanging signals, and one said he “flipped” the piece of paper so the other could see it.
“We were nodding at the question on our computer screens. There was no signal,” Kayla told Insider, adding that they “never looked at each other.”
According to him, people have often noted their “unbelievably similar” actions, and that they do not have “twin telepathy” and a “secret language”.
Kelly told the board that she and her sister have had very similar academic grades since first grade and their college entrance SAT scores are identical.
Despite their pleas, the sisters were found guilty of cheating, but cleared a few days later. But they say their reputations have already sunk.
Kelly told Insider, “There were rumors and rumors going around campus that we were being academically dishonest.
The sisters decided to leave the school later that year “at the dean’s recommendation because of how hostile it was,” Kayla said.
They abandoned their plans to become doctors and went into law instead.
In 2017, the women sued the school for defamation — which they won last month.
During their trial in Charleston, their attorney presented their nearly identical academic records to the jury.
The professor also told the panel that the sisters submitted the same answers for an exam he supervised and that they sat across the room.
A psychologist specializing in behavioral genetics and twin studies testified that he would be surprised if the twins “didn’t have the same score.”
“We knew the truth. We didn’t want to screw up and ruin our reputation,” Kayla said. “It takes a lifetime to earn a reputation.”
Nancy Segal, who founded the Center for the Study of Twins at the University of California, Fullerton, and testified in court, described the twins’ “very close bond.”
“They’re genetically predisposed to behave the same way,” Segal told Insider. “They have been brought up in the same way and are natural partners in the same environment.”
According to him, “identical twins have this understanding that goes beyond what we normally think of as intimate relationships.”
Segal notes that twin students are often accused of cheating because of their similarities in thinking and behavior.
The sisters, now 31, held each other’s hands as the verdict was announced.
“It was the biggest moment of our lives,” Kayla said. “We lived with this for six years, and finally we have everything back.”
The two women now work at the same law firm and intend to handle defamation lawsuits as their own, the publication said.