In the fall of 2016, Kellie and Kayla Bingham, identical twins who were studying at the University of South Carolina Medical School, walked into their favorite hang-out spot in the town of Charleston.
There were a large number of their fellow students that they saw. The students stared and nudged each other, Kayla told Insider.
Kayla expressed, “wherever we traveled, it occurred. We would receive an unwelcoming response and individuals would engage in rumors about us.” She further mentioned, “we were compelled to request home delivery since we were no longer able to dine out, it reached that extreme.”
The medical school claimed that it was not just a coincidence that the sisters had received similar scores in an important exam. They were labeled as MUSC by those who accused them of cheating because they had been ostracized.
“It was heartbreaking,” Kellie expressed regarding the allegations. “We both understood that we hadn’t committed any wrongdoing.”
The jury awarded them $1.5 million in total damages. They won their defamation case against MUSC in November. After six years of torment, the twins have finally been cleared of their names.
The sisters’ ordeal started with the May 2016 examination. Kellie mentioned that the twins were allocated seats at the identical table. According to her, they were approximately four or five feet away from each other. She explained that their vision was obstructed by their computer screens, preventing them from seeing one another.
After a span of two weeks, the staff officially charged them with the act of dishonesty.
Kayla expressed her distress and disbelief at the fact that this unfortunate situation was unfolding for them when she had to go before the honor board. She mentioned that her thoughts were racing.
Despite the emotional trauma, Kellie said that the school thought she would withdraw the claims. She continued, “When you’re accused of something, your emotions can affect the way you process it, and sometimes there’s no truth to it.”
They had obtained the identical score in various places and on different occasions. Their SAT scores were exactly the same. According to her, they had been graded very closely in high school. Kellie informed the council that their responses had been remarkably similar since they were in first grade.
The professor informed the council that the sisters suspected he had collaborated with twins. After remotely monitoring the results of the entire class, an alarm was raised.
She had noticed that the Binghams had nodded their heads repeatedly as if they were exchanging signals, so she reported it to the proctor. The proctor had told them to “keep an extra eye” on them during the exam.
The students were subjected to rumors and blame on both the campus and in the local community.
The women, who were 24 at the time, protested their innocence. “We were just nodding at each other in front of our computer screens,” Kayla said. “There was no signaling,” she added, clarifying that they never looked at each other.
Kayla said, “When you display familiar and consistent behaviors during an exam, confirmation bias could be used against you, and your computer screen nodding at that was something I never expected.” She mentioned that people often commented on their incredibly similar mannerisms, as reported by an “Insider.”
Kayla informed the council that the accusation of cheating was absurd. Insider informed her that the sisters did not possess any secret language or twin telepathy. She added that we do not experience each other’s pain or emotions.
The twins were found guilty, but they were cleared of the charge and appealed to the dean. After a long and excruciating week-long wait, they said, “We thought it had gone away,” and “We worked really hard” to get back to their studies.
The media reported on California, stating that it seemed distant from other states. These discussions took place on blogs and within the community on social media, where their peers were targeted. There was recrimination and gossip. Kellie mentioned how we had been academically dishonest on campus, and rumors and mutterings about this leaked out, causing damage.
Another person, who had sent them a save-the-date card, never followed up. They sent them a generic-sounding email. They said that they were “uninvited” from two weddings, including a friend they had known for a decade. They refused to talk to people who refused to talk to them, including their friend.
Kayla stated, “We were among the most sociable people on campus, familiar with everyone in our medical school cohort as well as other classes.”
“We didn’t rest, we shed pounds, gained pounds, shed pounds,” Kayla said.
“Following the dean’s suggestion, due to the increasingly hostile environment,” Kayla stated that they decided to depart. In September 2016, they officially withdrew from MUSC.
Kellie told me that she was shattered when they were forced to abandon their medical careers, and honestly, I had always dreamed of being a doctor, so I wanted to help Kayla as much as I could.
They submitted their legal claim in 2017.
“We were aware of the truth,” Kayla stated. “We were not going to surrender and allow our reputation to be destroyed.”
“You spend your whole life establishing a reputation,” she stated. Continuing, she added, “the primary and most important aspect was to vindicate our reputation.”
The siblings pursued a career in law — instead of becoming doctors as they had once envisioned.
“We united in our determination to combat the situation — and successfully accomplished our goal,” Kayla expressed. “We placed our trust in one another,” the siblings grew even more connected.
Similar to their own aspirations, they desire to handle intricate cases of defamation. They are employed at the identical legal practice. Upon completing their studies the previous year, they possessed nearly identical grade point averages. Opting out of pursuing medical careers, they made the choice to pursue legal education.
Kayla, who is now 31, expressed, “We were determined to prevent others from experiencing the same hardships that we had gone through.” “We altered our course in order to make an attempt at guaranteeing that individuals will not have to suffer what we experienced.”
The trial in Charleston lasted for a span of five years before reaching a verdict. The jury was provided with the educational records of the sisters’ attorney, which showcased their exam results from previous assessments. These results indicated that the sisters had achieved nearly identical or very similar scores.
He said that it would have been impossible for them to collaborate. They had been sitting at the opposite ends of the classroom. In 2012, he supervised an exam for them, and in a letter, he stated that they had submitted the exact same answers – some wrong, some right. This happened when they were in college, before their law school.
Nancy Segal, an expert in the field of behavioral genetics and twin studies, provided testimony in court. During her statement, she expressed that she would have been genuinely astonished if the sisters had not acquired identical scores.
Academia generally “stands” united against allegations of cheating, as stated by the professor who founded the Center for Twin Studies at California State University, Fullerton, and who spoke to the jury about the remarkably close bond of twins.
Segal stated, “They have been raised in the same environment and have the same natural partners. They are genetically predisposed to behave in the same way.”
She told Insider that twins — particularly identical twins — are likely to have similar tastes, talents, social preferences, and academic achievements.
Segal, an author on the topic, stated, “Identical twins possess an inherent comprehension that surpasses our conventional notion of a strong bond.” She pointed out that MUSC had failed to take into account “the significance of the corresponding genetic profiles” while accusing the twins of cheating.
After living for six years with this, we finally had everything restored to us. Kayla said that the moment when the verdict came, and Kellie held her hand, was the biggest moment of our lives.