Convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein contributed a whopping $750,000 to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a separate $100,000 unregistered personal gift to one of its professors in a bid to repair his public image after being found guilty of sex crimes in 2008. The revelation came as a result of an investigation conducted by a law firm hired by MIT and published by the institute.
Epstein made a total of 10 donations between 2002 and 2017, the probe showed, with the main benefactors being Seth Lloyd, a mechanical engineering professor, and the MIT Media Lab, run by Joi Ito. Both Ito and Lloyd were personally acquainted with the sex offender and released public apologies over this fact. One of the donations was received by Lloyd personally in 2012 without registering it properly with MIT.
Ito left the institute over the uproar due to his ties with offender, while Lloyd was sent on paid administrative leave.
The law firm's investigation showed that while the university's officials had doubts about taking the donations from the sex offender, in the end they decided to take them unlike other institutions, which refused to do so. Although the university refused to mention Epstein's name in the link to these donations, marking them as anonymous, that didn't stop the sex offender from boasting about them publicly.
The probe's authors noted that MIT's regulations didn't prohibit it from taking such donations, but still called the decision a "significant error of judgment". The university not only took the money, it also invited the offender on several occasions to the campus to meet with faculty and researchers between 2013 and 2017 to incentivise Epstein to donate more.
Following the law firm's findings, the institute announced that it will change its regulations in regards to rules of accepting donations to avoid such incidents in the future. It also promised to transfer the sum equal to Epstein's donations to a charity that supports victims of sexual abuse.
Epstein was accused of organising a sex trafficking network in April 2019, but never lived to be convicted. He was found dead after apparently committing suicide in his cell on 10 August.
The circumstances of his death raised many eyebrows, spurring conspiracy theories that he might have been killed on purpose. Epstein had numerous friends in high circles who might have used his trafficking services and been afraid that he call spill their secrets during the trial.