As Felicity Huffman prepares to be sentenced by a federal judge next week in the college admissions scandal, her former Desperate Housewives cast mate Eva Longoria has revealed to the judge how Huffman once protected her from a bully on set.
Huffman has pleaded guilty to mail fraud after paying $15,000 to increase her daughter's SAT score. Federal prosecutors are recommending she be sentenced on Friday to at least one month in prison.
Before the judge hands down her sentence, Huffman's husband, William H. Macy, as well as her friends and former colleagues submitted letters of support for her on Friday.
In her letter, Longoria described Huffman as her "good friend" who immediately made her feel at ease on her first day on Desperate Housewives in 2004 when she was still new to Hollywood. She described how Huffman saw her at the first table read "alone, scared, and unsure of where to go and what to do," and offered support.
During its eight-season run on ABC, the show was plagued by reports of off-screen drama and tension among the cast, with rumors of a feud between Teri Hatcher and the rest of the actors.
Although Longoria didn't name anyone in her letter, she revealed how she was "bullied at work by a co-worker."
"I dreaded the days I had to go to work with that person because it was pure torture," she wrote.
Longoria said the bullying only stopped when Huffman confronted the person and said, "Enough."
"Felicity could feel that I was riddled with anxiety even though I never complained or mentioned the abuse to anyone," she said.
In a separate letter to the judge, Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry also spoke of a "problematic cast member" on the show, but he also did not name the woman. "She was a big star with some big behavioral problems," he said.
Cherry said the actor decided during the seventh season to no longer speak to her fellow cast members, and only with the show's directors. "This was alternately maddening and hilarious," he said.
But Cherry said Huffman continued to greet the actress every morning, "even though she knew she wouldn't get a response."
"Just because that woman's determined to be rude," he said Huffman told him, "doesn't mean she can keep me from being polite."
Longoria also revealed she was being paid far less than her costars due to her relative inexperience, until Huffman proposed they renegotiate their salaries as a unit.
"That did not go over too well with the others," she wrote. "But Felicity stood up for me, saying it was fair because the success of the show depended on all of us, not one of us. The fight lasted weeks, but Felicity held strong and convinced everyone this was the right thing to do."
According to Longoria, Huffman was also the only Desperate Housewives actor who would regularly help Longoria's charities.
"[The other women] were all usually too busy to help, except Felicity," she said. "I can't tell you how many times she was the only one who would physically show up to help me with kids with cancer, or children with special needs."
In his own letter, Macy revealed Huffman has not been able to work since her arrest by the FBI earlier this year.
"It's not clear when or how Felicity will resume her acting career," he said. "Since her arrest, she's received no job offers or auditions."
He said one performing arts school withdrew their invitation for their oldest daughter, Sophia, to audition after Huffman's arrest. "She still doesn't like to sleep alone and has nightmares from the FBI agents waking her that morning with guns drawn," Macy said.
In her own letter to the judge, Huffman said she had been trying to help Sophia, who has learning disabilities.
She said she acted out of "desperation to be a good mother," but says the "irony" is that she has now hurt her daughter, who Huffman said asked her tearfully, "Why didn't you believe in me? Why didn't you think I could do it on my own?"
Still, she repeated several times that there was "no justification" for her actions.
"I unequivocally take complete responsibility for my actions and will respectfully accept whatever punishment the court deems appropriate," she said.