by Steve Bradt at news.mit.edu
January 10, 2020
The Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation today released the findings from a thorough review of MIT’s engagements with Jeffrey Epstein. The review, conducted by the law firm Goodwin Procter, sheds light on the Institute’s actions pertaining to 10 Epstein donations, totaling $850,000, that MIT received between 2002 and 2017, as well as multiple visits that Epstein made to campus.
The report concludes that President L. Rafael Reif was not aware that the Institute was accepting donations from a convicted sex offender and accused pedophile, and had no role in approving MIT’s acceptance of the donations.
But the review finds that three MIT vice presidents learned of Epstein’s donations to the MIT Media Lab, and his status as a convicted sex offender, in 2013. In the absence of any MIT policy regarding controversial gifts, Epstein’s subsequent gifts to the Institute were approved under an informal framework developed by the three administrators, R. Gregory Morgan, Jeffrey Newton, and Israel Ruiz.
“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,” the 61-page report says. “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.”
Unbeknownst to any members of MIT’s senior leadership, the report says, Epstein visited MIT nine times between 2013 and 2017. The fact-finding reveals that these visits and all post-conviction gifts from Epstein were driven by either former Media Lab director Joi Ito or professor of mechanical engineering Seth Lloyd, and not by the MIT administration or the Office of Resource Development.
The report concludes that Lloyd purposefully failed to inform MIT that Epstein, a convicted sex offender, was the source of two donations to support his research in 2012. Lloyd was also found to have received a personal gift of $60,000 from Epstein in 2005 or 2006, which he acknowledged was deposited into a personal bank account and not reported to MIT.