Here some key takeaways from the MIT report:
- Top officials were aware that Jeffrey Epstein was a convicted sex offender. Three university vice presidents -- R. Gregory Morgan, Jeffrey Newton, and Israel Ruiz -- learned of the financier’s donations to the MIT Media Lab and his status as a convicted sex offender, in 2013. Morgan and Newton have retired; Ruiz has announced he is stepping down this year.
- MIT did not have a policy regarding controversial gifts, so Epstein’s gifts after 2013 were approved under an “informal framework” developed by the three officials. The report says because there was no official policy, there were no policy violations, and there were no violations of law, “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.”
- The idea of the informal framework was “a compromise solution: accept the donations to support [the university’s Media Lab and its former director Joi Ito], while trying to protect the Institute to the extent possible by insisting that such donations remain relatively small and unpublicized, so that they could not be used by Epstein to launder or ‘whitewash’ his reputation or to gain influence at MIT.” Epstein repeatedly ignored the requirement that he not publicize his support and even claimed credits for gifts that he did not give.
- MIT President Rafael L. Reif. didn’t know. Reif had no knowledge that MIT was accepting donations from a convicted sex offender and had no role in approving their acceptance, the report said. He signed a gift acknowledgment letter to Epstein in 2012, but there was no evidence that he was aware that Epstein had a criminal record or was, in any way, controversial.
- Epstein visited MIT nine times between 2013 and 2017, unbeknownst to senior leadership.
- The visits and all the post-conviction gifts from Epstein were either driven by Ito, who resigned amidst controversy in September, or professor of mechanical engineering Seth Lloyd, and not by the MIT administration or the Office of Resource Development.
- Lloyd purposefully failed to tell MIT that Epstein was the source of two donations to his research in 2012. He also received a personal gift of $60,000 from Epstein, which was not reported to MIT. Lloyd has been placed on paid administrative leave.
- Between 2002 and 2017, Epstein made 10 separate gifts to MIT, totaling $850,000.
- At one point, in 2016, Ito sought unsuccessfully to enlist Robert Millard, chair of the MIT Corporation, in cultivating Epstein. Epstein e-mailed Millard an invitation to dinner, but Millard declined. There is no evidence Millard ever reconnected with Epstein, the report also said.
Martin Finucane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.