A pair of identical twins were awarded $1.5 million in compensation from a South Carolina university after wrongly accusing them of cheating on a medical exam using signs, after a court ruled their answers were identical because their minds were connected.
Kayla and Kellie Bingham, 30, initially enrolled at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 2016 to fulfill their dreams of one day becoming doctors.
Now, six years later, after suing the medical school for defamation, the two sisters have been compensated for damaging their reputations after a jury found in their favor.
It all started when both brothers, who were 24 when the scandal was first revealed, were assigned to sit at the same table during a medical exam, according to Kellie.
She told Insider that it was virtually impossible for her and Kayla to see the computer screens even though there was only four or five feet of distance between them.
Kayla and Kellie Bingham, 30, have been awarded $1.5 million in damages from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) after suing the university for defamation regarding allegations that both former students of the faculty of medicine had cheated on an exam in 2016.
The Medical University of South Carolina refused to view the twins’ history of getting similar scores on tests, quizzes and exams as proof that they had not cheated. Instead, the faculty thought that the two sisters had communicated through social cues and cues.
It also wasn’t the first time that the daughters of Republican South Carolina state representative Kenny Bingham had tested together and earned similar scores.
The twins had received the same SAT scores despite testing on different days and locations and also scored within a fraction of a point in high school. Both had been recording similar answers to test questions since first grade.
That didn’t matter to the MUSC faculty, however, as Kayla and Kellie were summoned two weeks after taking their physical to inform them that the university had formally accused them of cheating.
“My mind was racing,” Kayla told Insider, recalling how she felt when she first addressed the medical school honor board. “I was crying and in disbelief that this was happening to us.”
“There’s no way to process your emotions when you’re accused of something you didn’t do,” he added.
Kayla (left) and Kellie (right) received the same SAT scores despite testing on different days and locations, and also received scores within a fraction of a point in high school.
Kellie thought MUSC would have dropped her cheating allegations after she had informed the school board of her and her sister’s similar testing patterns in the past.
That was not the case. In addition, both former medical students had discovered that a professor had “raised the alarm after monitoring the results of the entire class remotely,” Insider reported, leading him to believe that both sisters had been cooperating to get answers.
The exam proctor was then asked to closely observe the twins and noticed that they were both constantly nodding their heads as if they were sending signals to each other. He also saw one of the two women ‘turning over’ a piece of paper on the table ‘so that the other could see it’.
“We were just nodding our heads at a question on our own computer screens,” Kayla told Insider, adding that she and Kallie had “incredibly similar” sets of manners and didn’t think they would one day be held against each other.
Kayla described the cheating claims as “ludicrous” to the MUSC honor board, insisting that she and Kallie did not have “twin telepathy” or “secret language”.
“We don’t feel the pain of others or anything like that,” she further said, adding that there were “no signs” or questionable looks between her and her sister.
Kayla and Kellie eventually got MUSC to drop their cheating allegations a week after they were made, but the reputation and credibility of the students had already been damaged.
Despite putting up a strong defense, the twins were unable to prove their innocence and appealed to the university’s dean, Raymond DuBois, who cleared them of any wrongdoing a week later.
However, the credibility and reputation of the two sisters had already been damaged by then. They became unpopular on campus and were labeled “academically dishonest” by their peers.
Their names also appeared in local and state media, leading to them being isolated from their friends and being “uninvited” to two weddings, Insider reported.
By September 2016, Kallie and Kayla had left MUSC “on the recommendation of the dean, because of how hostile it had become” before filing a lawsuit against the university in 2017.
At trial, the jury was shown evidence that both former medical school students had scored identically on tests, exams and quizzes throughout their childhood.
A professor, who taught both brothers in college before they enrolled in medical school, had also written in defense of the twins. He said in a letter that they had both submitted exactly the same answers, correct or incorrect, on a test he proctored in 2012, despite sitting at opposite ends of the classroom.
Kayla and Kellie dropped out of medical school to become attorneys fighting defamation cases! Pictured: The twins graduate from college before enrolling in medical school.
Professor Nancy Segal, a psychologist and behavioral geneticist specializing in the study of twins at California State University, Fullerton, also testified in court. She stated that she would have been surprised if Kayla and Kellie hadn’t come to the same conclusion that she constantly followed them through their time at school: getting similar scores on a test.
He also said cheating allegations filed against twins are “common” in higher education.
“They are genetically predisposed to behave in the same way,” said Professor Segal. They have been raised in the same way and are natural partners in the same environment.
Kayla recalled the moment the jury read their conclusions as “the most important moment of our lives” and finally being proven innocent and “everything returned to us.”
Since dropping out of medical school, both sisters have gone on to become attorneys, scoring similarly on the LSAT before graduating in 2021.
They are now co-workers at the same law firm, where they take on defamation cases similar to the one they first experienced six years ago.