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‘I Offer a Profound and Humble Apology’: MIT Breaks Silence on Epstein’s Gifts to the University


Dead convicted sex offender and accused child sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein had a penchant for donating to elite institutions. One of those institutions, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has offered an apology to Epstein’s victims for accepting $800,000 of his money over two decades.

President L. Rafael Reif said in a letter posted to the institution’s website on Thursday that, to his knowledge, the “core facts” about the gifts were as follows:

Over the course of 20 years, MIT received approximately $800,000 via foundations controlled by Jeffrey Epstein. All of those gifts went either to the MIT Media Lab or to Professor Seth Lloyd. Both Seth and Media Lab Director Joi Ito have made public statements apologizing to Jeffrey Epstein’s victims and others for judgments made over a series of years.

Reif then pointed to Professor Lloyd and Media Lab Director Ito’s public apologies.

Ito’s apology came on Aug. 15. In it, Ito acknowledged that he “met Epstein in 2013 at a conference through a trusted business friend and, in my fundraising efforts for MIT Media Lab, I invited him to the Lab and visited several of his residences.”

2013 was years after Epstein received an extraordinary plea deal and non-jail jail sentence for soliciting prostitution from a minor. It was also years before the Miami Herald shined a light on this and everything else. Ito said that he was “never involved in, never heard him talk about, and never saw any evidence of the horrific acts that he was accused of.” Ito apologized to Epstein’s victims and vowed to “raise an amount equivalent to the donations the Media Lab received from Epstein and will direct those funds to non-profits that focus on supporting survivors of trafficking.”

Prof. Lloyd’s apology was issued on the same day as Reif’s statement. In a Medium post, Lloyd said that he met Epstein as far back as 2004, “at a dinner for scientists and their supporters.”

Unlike Ito, Lloyd said he was aware of Epstein’s conviction. He even admitted that he visited Epstein in a Florida county jail more than a decade ago.

Lloyd said that, despite this, he continued to accept money from Epstein.

“I have asked Provost Marty Schmidt to convene a group to examine the facts around the Epstein donations and identify any lessons for the future, to review our current processes and to advise me on appropriate ways we might improve them,” he wrote. “And to any MIT faculty member who has questions or uncertainties about a funder: Please know that MIT has staff who can help you in gathering the facts and coming to an informed judgment.”

In closing, Reif offered a “profound and humble apology” to Epstein’s victims.

“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,” Reif said. “No apology can undo that. In response, we will commit an amount equal to the funds MIT received from any Epstein foundation to an appropriate charity that benefits his victims or other victims of sexual abuse.”

Epstein’s association with other high-profile members of the science community–and his deranged ideas–were explored in the days before his apparent suicide behind bars.

[Image via Stephanie Keith/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.