CAMBRIDGE — Nearly one month after his suicide, Harvard University confirmed that it had received approximately $9 million from accused sex trafficker and financier Jeffrey Epstein on Thursday.
The news comes directly following the resignation of MIT Media Lab’s director Joi Ito after it was revealed that the lab had received approximately $1.7 million in funds following Epstein’s 2008 arrest and conviction for solicitation of prostitution from a minor.
“Epstein’s reported criminal actions were utterly abhorrent,” Harvard president Lawrence Bacow stated in a public letter to the school’s community. “They flagrantly offend the values of our society and this institution, and we condemn them. We also recognize the profound pain that Epstein caused to his victims and their families, and we commend their courage in coming forward to bring his crimes to light.”
Epstein, who died in August while awaiting trial, was facing federal charges of sex trafficking and sexual abuse of minors between 2002 to 2005.
Despite not being an alumni of the University, the financier had close ties to several prominent public figures associated with the school including his attorney Alan Dershowitz, former University President Lawrence Summers, and Mathematics professor Martin Nowak. Bacow confirmed that Epstein had been designated a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Psychology in 2005 by former faculty member Dr. Stephen Kosslyn, despite having no degree in the field.
The donations to the University were not the first time Epstein attempted to curry favor with the academic community. In July, the New York Times reported the accused trafficker had a bizarre fascination with elements of fringe science including eugenics, transhumanism and cryogenics. While many have publicly disavowed any strong association with Epstein, notable figures such as cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, biologist Robert Tivers and the late Marvin Minsky have alleged ties to Epstein and his foundations—an example of which can be found in a curiously worded blog from 2010.
“Epstein’s connections as a donor to this University, and other institutions, raise important concerns,” Bacow continued. “Epstein made a number of gifts to support various faculty and institutional research activities across the University. The largest of these was a $6.5 million gift in 2003 to support the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. The University received other gifts, which totaled approximately $2.4 million, based on current information.”
Bacow confirmed that the donations were made prior to Epstein’s 2008 conviction and that a review of his connections as a donor is ongoing.
“I profoundly regret Harvard’s past association with him. Conduct such as his has no place in our society. We act today in recognition of that fact. And we do so knowing that the scourge of sexual assault continues to demand our close attention and concerted action.”