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Ronan Farrow published an exposé in The New Yorker Friday evening alleging that though the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) Media Lab was aware of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex offender past, it continued to accept donations and worked to keep those donations a secret.
According to Farrow’s report, the lab noted Epstein as a “disqualified donor,” yet “continued to accept gifts from him, consulted him about the use of the funds, and, by marking his contributions as anonymous, avoided disclosing their full extent, both publicly and within the university.”
Additionally, Farrow reports Epstein was credited with attaining at least $7.6 million for the lab, including donations that resulted from Epstein being a go-between with wealthy donors like technologist and philanthropist Bill Gates and investor Leon Black. Epstein reportedly secured two million dollars 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 grant-making for Bill Gates is completely false.” Black has declined to comment on the story.
MIT maintains it accepted $800,000 from Epstein’s foundations over the course of 20 years, and has apologized for accepting those donations. The lab’s director Joi Ito recently disclosed he separately accepted $1.2 million from Epstein for investment funds.
Internal emails and sources note that in an effort to hide any of Epstein’s contact with the lab, only his initials were used on the lab director’s calendar. He even earned nicknames such as “Voldemort” or “he who must not be named,” in reference to the Harry Potter villain, amongst staff.
Details in Farrow’s report include Epstein meeting with faculty and leadership, and in one 2015 visit, was he accompanied by two young women. Signe Swenson, a former development associate and alumni coordinator at the lab who resigned in 2016 due to Epstein’s involvement, told Farrow she and other staff were fearful for 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,” Swenson said.
Read the full exposé by Farrow here.
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