MIT, Harvard both snared in Jeffrey Epstein scandal

The sordid Jeffrey Epstein saga continues as now two major Boston-area institutions find themselves snared in a web of controversy.

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Late Thursday, the Boston Globe reported  Harvard University admitted to receiving roughly $9 million directly from Epstein after weeks of silence on the matter. This just hours after it was revealed that the disgraced Wall Street financier received a thank you letter for a donation made to a professor, which happened to be signed by the president of MIT himself.

MIT President L. Rafael Reif admitted that the 2012 letter was indeed signed by him in a letter posted to the school’s website.

Using a team from the law firm Goodwin Procter, the investigators "found a copy of a standard acknowledgment letter thanking Jeffrey Epstein for a gift to [professor] Seth Lloyd — as far as we know now, the first gift received at MIT after Epstein’s conviction,” Reif wrote. “I apparently signed this letter on August 16, 2012, about six weeks into my presidency. Although I do not recall it, it does bear my signature.”

Epstein’s ties to the university’s Media Lab have been received a large amount of attention stunning the elite Massachusetts school. The revelation of Epstein’s sex trafficking of minor charges prompted the university to hire the Goodwin Procter law firm in an effort to review Epstein’s donations and connections to the school.

"Goodwin Procter has found that in 2013, when members of my senior team learned that the Media Lab had received the first of the Epstein gifts, they reached out to speak with (MIT Media Lab director) Joi Ito," Reif wrote.

Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA - August 17, 2011: people at the main building of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"He asked for permission to retain this initial gift, and members of my senior team allowed it. They knew in general terms about Epstein's history -- that he had been convicted and had served a sentence and that Joi believed that he had stopped his criminal behavior."

Ito resigned on Saturday amidst reports that he and other Media Lab employees intentionally obscured the extent of Epstein’s ties to the university.

Goodwin Procter’s research uncovered donations made by Epstein from 2013 to 2017 from various foundations in Epstein’s name.

According to Reif, Epstein’s donations were “for general research purposes, such as supporting lab scientists and buying equipment.”

Meanwhile, Harvard University president Larry Bacow finally acknowledged that the Ivy League institution had received about $9 million in donations from Epstein over the period of a decade, with the donations ending in 2007.

“Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes were repulsive and reprehensible,” Bacow wrote in a letter to the Harvard community. “I profoundly regret Harvard’s past association with him. Conduct such as his has no place in our society.”

Epstein was initially convicted in 2008 as a sex offender following charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution and was sentenced to a 13-month jail term, nearly five years before the disgraced financier’s involvement with MIT. He was found dead inside a federal detention center in Manhattan last month following his recent arrest.

“I am aware that we could and should have asked more questions about Jeffrey Epstein and about his interactions with Joi,” Reif wrote. “We did not see through the limited facts we had, and we did not take time to understand the gravity of Epstein’s offenses or the harm to his young victims. I take responsibility for those errors. While the fact-finding will continue, we have already identified flaws in our processes that need to be addressed.”