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Some at MIT gladly prostrated themselves to Jeffrey Epstein on theory money from bad people can be put to good use, report finds

Some MIT researchers and officials caused "significant harm" to the school by taking money from Jeffrey Epstein and arranging frequent campus visits for him even after his conviction for procuring an underage prostitute even in the face repeated warnings from people on campus who knew better and who told them, as late as 2017, to stop it, a law firm hired by the school to look at its Epstein connections concludes.

The report, by lawyers at Goodwin Procter, said some officials even told then Media Lab director Joi Ito he had a duty to take money from a Level 3 sex offender because "society is better off if money from 'bad' sources is put to good uses" and that some went out of their way to hide the donations and visits, because even in their zeal for money, realized it wouldn't look good to be associated with the guy.

Still the lawyers continue that none of the officials at the Media Lab and a mechanical-engineering professor were not motivated by "any self-interest or financial reward." And the four-month investigation, which included "73 interviews of 59 witnesses and a review of more than 610,000 emails," showed that MIT President L. Rafael Reif had no knowledge of the donations and visits, let alone about attempts to cover them up.

In a statement, the MIT Corporation's Executive Committee said it was collectively aghast at the Level 3 sex offender's donations and ready access to some on campus:

The revelations have been particularly painful to those in the community who, themselves, are victims of sexual assault and abuse. ...

The Committee is troubled that MIT had a relationship with Epstein and that it was more extensive and lasted longer than has been publicly reported. The solicitation of donations led to multiple campus visits by Epstein that involved various faculty members and, in at least one visit, some students. All of this was fundamentally incompatible with MIT’s values and flew in the face of the community’s ongoing efforts to combat sexual assault and abuse, and to address broader issues related to gender and power.

Among the report's findings:

The investigation revealed that, between 2002 and 2017, Jeffrey Epstein made 10 donations to MIT totaling $850,000, including nine donations, totaling $750,000, made after his 2008 conviction. The post-conviction donations were all made either to support the work of the Media Lab ($525,000) or Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Systems and Physics Seth Lloyd ($225,000).

We find that the post-conviction donations to MIT were driven either by former Media Lab Director Joi Ito or by Professor Lloyd, not by MIT’s central administration (including its central fundraising group, the Office of Resource Development).

Professor Lloyd informed us that he received a personal gift of $60,000 from Epstein in or about 2005 or 2006 that was not known to, or recorded by, MIT. That gift was received directly by Professor Lloyd and deposited into his personal bank account. This amount therefore is not included in the $850,000 of donations received by MIT.

In 2012, Epstein pledged $100,000 to MIT to support the work of Professor Lloyd, donated in two installments of $50,000 during that same year. Professor Lloyd purposefully failed to inform MIT that Epstein, a convicted sex offender, was the source of the donations. Professor Lloyd also solicited another donation from Epstein in the amount of $125,000, which was made in 2017.

The lawyers added:

Since MIT had no policy or processes for handling controversial donors in place at the time, the decision to accept Epstein’s post-conviction donations cannot be judged to be a policy violation. But it is clear that the decision was the result of collective and significant errors in judgment that resulted in serious damage to the MIT community.

In his own statement, Reif wrote:

One of the most upsetting aspects of today’s report is that, in addition to the staff whistleblower who shared her experiences publicly in September, other individuals in the Media Lab and central administration warned academic and administrative leaders that taking Epstein’s donations was misguided - yet their warnings were disregarded.

Reif added that as a result of the findings, MIT is developing new guidelines to protect staff and students from sexual predators and to protect whistle blowers and re-examining the Media Lab's semi-autonomous governance,

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Comments

showed that MIT President L. Rafael Reif had knowledge of the donations and visits, let alone about attempts to cover them up.

Possible missing "no"?

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Fixed. The report said he had NO knowledge of what was going on.

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And the four-month investigation, which included "73 interviews of 59 witnesses and a review of more than 610,000 emails," showed that MIT President L. Rafael Reif had knowledge of the donations and visits, let alone about attempts to cover them up.

is the word no missing here?

also

Professor Lloyd informed us that he received a personal gift of $60,000 from Epstein in or about 2005 or 2006 that was not known to, or recorded by, MIT. That gift was received directly by Professor Lloyd and deposited into his personal bank account. This amount therefore is not included in the $850,000 of donations received by MIT.

what?

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Stupid typo fixed.

As for the second quotation, yeah: Wha? I guess since the money didn't go into MIT (or affiliated) coffers, they're accounting for it differently.

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I know you think the guy is bad, and he did alot of bad things, BUT:::

isn't money itself inherently amoral? (i.e., money cannot have morality because it is not a thinking entity, it is a tool)

So then, logically, if you need money, and someone gives it to you, and you cure cancer with it, isn't that acceptable?

It seems to me the inverse of this scenario is when Frank Sinatra used to send his checks signed "Anonymous" to hundreds of people in need over the years.

If the Medialab got money from "Anonymous", but it was really from , oh, i don't know, Hitler, but no one knew, that would be ok to accept, right?

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Epstein was using the donations to show...see, I'm not THAT bad, these people at MIT, Harvard, etc... are happy to work with me, which in turns justifies his behavior and/or claims of innocence. Not that hard to figure it out.

See also: Sacklers

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He was donating to the Media Lab though, not to cancer / other life-saving or humanity-saving research (of which MIT doesn’t do much compared to Tufts, Harvard, BU). The Media Lab is very high profile and sexy but it doesn’t offer anything of substance. I also had thought about the source of money vs whether it can go toward something useful. In this case, it really looks like he wanted access to something prestigious, to change his image, and the ML was just starting when he began donating so it was an obvious choice.

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The Media Lab got its own building when I was a sophomore at MIT. I took art tech courses there in '85 and '86. It was founded around the idea of bringing together interdisciplinary projects - like robots that kids could learn to program using LOGO and built with Legos -and do real world tech applications.

Epstein came on the scene around the time when the lab was taken over by the hucksters peddling vaporware.

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paid leave....isn't that a sabbatical? And why is Neri Oxman of the Media Lab, who took $125K, still employed? And they need a policy that you shouldn't take money from convicted sex offenders because no one has a moral compass? No one is being held accountable.

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I know people who left the media lab because it was gaining a circus atmosphere, and not in a good way. It became much more about show and tell, less about doing anything. Epstein's fans are just a visible symptom of the gangrene affecting the place. Put simply, the MIT Media Lab became a platform for showmanship and charlatans and hucksters good at grabbing the limelight and separating donors from their money with GEEWHIZ!

Note that sometime around 1995-2000, the place became more known for Just Imagine! speculative proposals and not actually doing much of anything? Very much related to palling around with pedophile billionaires.

The fact that they never talked to the Course 1's who do the environmental engineering stuff when they tried to set up an automated farm speaks volumes about the amount of actual real work coming out of the place. Due to their ability to pamper the fragile egos of billionaires for these vaporware schemes, much personality disorder was overlooked.

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...it was gaining a circus atmosphere...

I agree but I'm not sure "it was gaining" is quite the right phrase... the place was always a circus, more theater than substance. Not taken seriously by the real engineers at MIT. I'm still not clear how that intersected with Epstein choosing it as a recipient of his money, though; was that a coincidence, or was he attracted to the hyped-up media aura? Like flies buzzing around a pile of manure...

...the MIT Media Lab became a platform for showmanship and charlatans and hucksters good at grabbing the limelight...

It didn't "become" that, it was created to be that from the beginning. Have you ever met one of the key founders, Nicholas Negroponte? I have, and it wasn't fun. Fits your description precisely.

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"society is better off if money from 'bad' sources is put to good uses"

I tend to agree with that sentiment and don't see the shame of it. If the money was donated legally, the donor is dead, his name is removed and never honored at MIT, who cares/knows that he donated? This is especially true at a place where those funds may wind up curing cancer or some other breakthrough. Somebody once funded the far-fetched idea of DNA testing. That may be the biggest ever advancement in sexual assault cases. What if the DNA research-funder hadn't passed the purity test? Take Epstein's money and run. Perhaps add a disclaimer to MIT donor forms saying any donation may be changed to anonymous if the board later finds the donor's name dishonorable.

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Had this been arranged by lawyers meeting in conference rooms and ended in Epstein cutting a ribbon on a new facility, I'd agree.

But those flights and all that time that senior "researchers" spent at pedophile island while pursuing that money is a major red flag. Not to mention catering to Epstein's "dream" of clone baby farms and the like. The ends do not justify the means.

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This isn’t about someone who just had something minor on his record like pot possession, his crimes involved sex trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping and aggravated rape and took place over several years. Epstein didn’t just send donations to MIT, etc. unsolicited and solely out of the desire to change his reputation, donations of that size are for *access* to those making important decisions at prestigious institutions.

As another commenter said, MIT professors, and others, had personal relationships with Epstein and they took advantage of the girls he supplied. Epstein documented that with thousands of photos and videos that were taken at his homes. He wasn’t funding science (and it’s debatable what, if any, good the Media Lab offers; it isn’t a scientific research lab, it’s a place where architects and designers make cool-looking projects with little real world application) or anything like DNA research. It might be different if Epstein simply wrote checks to Harvard, BU, Tufts, MIT, UMass, etc. just to be charitable and didn’t ask for anything in return, but that was not what he did. Also, if Epstein had really wished to do something good with his money, why not donate substantial amounts to groups that might use it to help humanity?

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Underage prostitutes are child rape victims
And victims of sex trafficking because they are under the age if legal consent.

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