MIT lead­ers aware of $850K given by Ep­stein

Baltimore Sun - - BUSINESS - By Tif­fany Hsu, David Yaffe-Bel­lany and Marc Tracy

Con­victed sex of­fender Jef­frey Ep­stein do­nated a to­tal of $850,000 to the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, and top ad­min­is­tra­tors were aware of the gifts for years, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased by a law firm hired by the univer­sity to in­ves­ti­gate its ties to the dis­graced fi­nancier.

The f i r m, Good­win Proc­ter, found that Ep­stein made 10 do­na­tions from 2002 to 2017 and also vis­ited the school nine times from 2013 to 2017. The school said last year that it had re­ceived roughly $800,000 over the past two decades from Ep­stein, who killed him­self in his Man­hat­tan jail cell in Au­gust while await­ing trial on fed­eral sex traf­fick­ing charges.

The univer­sity placed Seth Lloyd, a me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing pro­fes­sor who pre­vi­ously ac­knowl­edged a re­la­tion­ship with Ep­stein, on paid leave af­ter the re­port found that he “pur­pose­fully failed” to in­form MIT of mul­ti­ple do­na­tions from Ep­stein, in­clud­ing a $60,000 gift de­posited into a per­sonal bank ac­count and not re­ported to the school.

Lloyd did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

The re­port found that three cur­rent and for­mer MIT ad­min­is­tra­tors learned of Ep­stein’s do­na­tions to the Me­dia Lab in 2013, but “in the ab­sence of any MIT pol­icy re­gard­ing con­tro­ver­sial gifts,” other do­na­tions were ap­proved un­der “an in­for­mal frame­work” that the ad­min­is­tra­tors de­vel­oped.

One of the ad­min­is­tra­tors who knew of Ep­stein’s crim­i­nal his­tory, Is­rael Ruiz, is MIT’s ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and trea­surer. Last month, the univer­sity said he would step down this se­mes­ter for a ca­reer out­side academia. The oth­ers, R. Gre­gory Mor­gan and Jef­frey New­ton, pre­vi­ously re­tired from the univer­sity.

Ruiz said in a state­ment that he was con­fi­dent that the univer­sity’s lead­er­ship and broader com­mu­nity would “re­flect on this episode and cre­ate an ef­fec­tive and suc­cess­ful path for­ward.”

Mes­sages left for Mor­gan and New­ton were not im­me­di­ately re­turned.

The re­port said se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tors had made “sig­nif­i­cant mis­takes of judg­ment” in ac­cept­ing do­na­tions from Ep­stein af­ter his 2008 con­vic­tion on sex charges in­volv­ing a mi­nor in Florida but had not breached any univer­sity pol­icy. The univer­sity did not an­nounce any dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against ad­min­is­tra­tors.

Af­ter news of Ep­stein’s re­la­tion­ship with the school be­came pub­lic last year, the univer­sity set up two fac­ulty-led com­mit­tees to work on poli­cies for gifts and the vet­ting of donors.

“We must fix what needs fix­ing and im­prove what needs im­prov­ing,” L. Rafael Reif, MIT’s pres­i­dent, said last week.

Reif ac­knowl­edged last year that he had signed a let­ter thank­ing Ep­stein for a do­na­tion in 2012, four years af­ter the fi­nancier’s plea. The 61-page re­port cleared Reif of wrong­do­ing, say­ing that he was un­aware that the school’s pres­ti­gious Me­dia Lab was ac­cept­ing do­na­tions and “had no role in ap­prov­ing” the funds, ac­cord­ing to the univer­sity.


Stu­dents walk on the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy cam­pus.


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