Science

Twin sisters like us have been accused of cheating in exams. A jury awarded him $1.5 million.

Identical twin sisters accused of cheating on year-end medical school exams have won a defamation lawsuit against the Medical University of South Carolina.

In May 2016 the twins, Kayla and Kelly Bingham, were accused of “academic dishonesty” after a test proctor reviewed the results of a test on which their performance was deemed remarkably similar. The sisters’ identical answers to 296 out of 307 questions, including 54 incorrect answers, set off alarm bells among university officials, who launched an investigation into the twins’ performance.

A school “honor council” alleged that the pair had been “signalling each other and passing notes,” court documents show, and ultimately ruled that they had cheated on the exam.

“It was an eight-hour ordeal during which we displayed normal exam-taking behavior,” Kayla Bingham told CBS Moneywatch.

The Binghams successfully appealed the decision and filed a lawsuit against the university, arguing that over the years they had received equal treatment and performance in academics and athletics. After a four-day trial in November, a South Carolina jury decided that the school defamed the sisters and awarded them a total of $1.5 million in damages.

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Kayla (left) and Kelly Bingham now work for the same South Carolina law firm.

Rodney’s Choice


The Binghams’ legal case rested on the principle that it is common for identical twins to perform similarly on tests given their genetic profiles. Nancy Segal, who runs the Twin Studies Center at California State University, Fullerton and who testified in the case, said that many studies show that identical twins often perform similarly on a range of cognitive tests.

“There is a wealth of psychological research that shows identical twins perform similarly on tests of intelligence, information processing, and reaction speed, and I’m not surprised at all that they turn out to be very similar on the tests,” says Segal, who is a psychologist, told CBS MoneyWatch.

“When identical twins perform very differently it catches our attention,” she said. “While they perform similarly, it is very consistent with the literature. I would be surprised if they did not score similarly.”

At his trial, Bingham said the fraud allegations caused him to experience psychological distress, including panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“very hostile”

Kelly Bingham told CBS Moneywatch, “It was a very hostile environment. People we knew, who sat around and studied with for two years, wouldn’t talk to us.” “They knew our work ethic and study habits but refused to listen to our side of the story. People we trusted completely turned their backs on us.”

The university’s accusation and the events that followed also hindered Bingham’s plans to become a doctor. Both now work as government affairs consultants at the same South Carolina law firm.

Kayla said, “We understood that once word gets out, even if it’s not accurate, it damages your reputation as a person. So we completely changed course.”

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