Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker reports that Jeffrey Epstein continued to donate to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab despite being a “disqualified donor” because of his sex offender conviction.
The report says that the elite university continued to accept gifts from pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and marked them as anonymous to avoid “disclosing their full extent, both publically and within the university.”
“Perhaps most notably, Epstein appeared to serve as an intermediary between the lab and other wealthy donors, soliciting millions of dollars in donations from individuals and organizations, including the technologist and philanthropist Bill Gates and the investor Leon Black,” The New Yorker reports.
Farrow said Epstein was credited with securing at least $7.5 million in donations – including $2 million from Gates and $5.5 million from Black.
A spokesperson for Gates told The New Yorker that “any claim that Epstein directed any programmatic or personal grantmaking for Bill Gates is completely false.” Meanwhile, Black declined to comment.
According to the New Yorker, the MIT Media Lab went to great lengths to hide its relationship with Epstein, including only identifying him by his initials for any meetings scheduled with the lab’s director.
“The effort to conceal the lab’s contact with Epstein was so widely known that some staff in the office of the lab’s director, Joi Ito, referred to Epstein as Voldemort or ‘he who must not be named,’” Farrow continued, referencing the moniker used for the villain in J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.
Signe Swenson, a former development associate and alumni coordinator at the lab, told Farrow that the lab’s leadership made it explicit that any donations from Epstein had to be kept secret. She recalled Ito said that “we can take small gifts anonymously.”
Swenson said she resigned in 2016 due to Jeffrey Epstein’s involvement, telling Farrow that Epstein was accompanied by two young women at a meeting with the lab’s leadership. She said she and other staff were fearful of the women’s safety.
“We literally had a conversation about how, on the off chance that they’re not there by choice, we could maybe help them,” she said.
The university revealed last month that it had accepted $800,000 from Epstein’s foundations over 20 years and has apologized for it.
“With hindsight, we recognize with shame and distress that we allowed MIT to contribute to the elevation of his reputation, which in turn served to distract from his horrifying acts. No apology can undo that,” MIT’s president, L. Rafael Reif, said in a statement.
A university spokesman told The New Yorker that they are “looking at the facts surrounding Jeffrey Epstein’s gifts to the institute.”
Epstein, 66, died last month in his prison cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City from an apparent suicide. He was awaiting trial for the alleged sexual abuse of dozens of young girls in his Upper East Side townhouse and his waterfront mansion in Palm Beach, Fla., between 2002 and 2005.
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