On June 30, 2008, after Epstein pleaded guilty to a state charge (one of two) of procuring for prostitution a girl below age 18
I remember it going viral at the time, and since then a casual Google would have thrown it up pretty highly.
You’ll note Ito never claims he wasn’t aware of the allegations or the guilty plea, he simply says he didn’t ever see any evidence of that behavior.
Plenty of people would pause before accepting money from someone like Epstein and plenty of people, as we’ve seen, did not.
Those that did aren’t responsible for any of Epstein’s crimes, but it’s more than fair that they answer questions about why they took money from someone like him — even if the answers are uncomfortable.
> Basically, Milner is a crook, and if there was any justice in the world he and Usmanov would be in jail for what they have done. But there isn't, and there are people in the Valley who are willing to overlook ethics if you have enough money. The fact that Milner is now working with YC is a sad testament to that fact.
PG: VCs are not so high minded that they're offended by who his LPs are, believe me.
> Actually, it would seem to be just as simple as he implies. VCs in the valley care only about money and don't give a hoot about morality. You haven't debated the fact that Milner is linked to the looting of state resources; you've simply said that anyone else would also take his money if they could.
PG: even if Yuri's money was tainted in some way, it was being used as a counterweight to another bad thing.
This is the ultimate problem and it has nothing to do with US-Russia relations but rather with dealing with known seedy characters
Welcome to HN, where a 55 year old man having sex with a 16 year old girl is "not a great look".
Throw in the power and money imbalance, and still "not a great look".
Throw in that the child was having sex for money, at a time when she should've been concerned with getting good grades in high school, but it really should be a choice for high schoolers to engage in dangerous and - as it is - damaging acts like prostitution, so yup, "not a great look". A "red flag" perhaps.
We don't let 16 year olds drive cars (without restriction), buy cigarettes and alcohol, skip school (in some jurisdictions), or, hell, work full time or at hazardous occupations (in CA at least) for good reasons, but it somehow should be a choice to engage in prostitution, because the letter of the law in Alabama permits 16 year olds to have sex.
No, I don't think it's fine to feel that way, and I don't think the parent's opinion is "controversial". A rich 55-year-old paying for sex with an 11th graderis very much un-controversially a bad thing no matter how you wrap it, and no matter what the laws are in Alabama, medieval Europe, or Mars.
Please don't be an apologist for child abuse. It's not a great look.
> there are people in the Valley who are willing to overlook ethics if you have enough money.
Seems very little has changed.
While that's true of the substance of his sweetheart plea deal, there was a lot more involved than that, which was also widely reported on.
Legally, they can in much of the United States.
And if they could, the laws would need to be rewritten, because that would make child rape legal.
Repeat after me: a 16 year old having sex with a 55 year old for money is child abuse.
No one can legally consent to prostitution, except where prostitution is legal.
A 16-year-old can legally consent to sex in much of the USA, which makes the act prostitution, not “child rape”.
> Repeat after me: a 16 year old having sex with a 55 year old for money is child abuse.
Whether that's legally true depends on the state. Whether it's morally true depends on the 16-year-old (the reason for variation in age of consent laws is that there isn't a simple, clear, consistent chronological point where a bit flips from a person being incapable of mature consent to sex to capable of it), and a lot of other factors (including, potentially, the state: legality alone does not control morality but it's not completely irrelevant, either.)
I'll just note that on HN, a 16 year old girl having sex with a rich 55 year old man for money is a morally ambiguous situation, whose morality depends on "a lot of other factors" (presumably, ones not including age, wealth, and power of the 55 year old in question).
When I was 16, I was having sex with a woman who was - let's just say old enough to be prosecuted in California. It was great. If the right 55 year old came around, why the hell not?
I guess you'll claim that I'm an abused child. That's bollocks.
Or maybe you think that only girls need to be protected/infantilized?
Nobody is arguing for a world where teenagers turn tricks for a living. And sure this situation brings up all sorts of questions, and isn't "fine". But 16-18 is definitely in the grey zone of adulthood, and the majority of US states grant them a lot of sexual agency already. There's a big gap between "just fine" and "hang 'em!"
My moral judgement basically comes down to: How did the 16yo feel about it? It's really their interest we're advocating for, right?
It keeps getting better!
I'll just note that on HN people think there's a question about how a 16 year old girl feels about having sex for money with a 55 year old known child abuser (old enough to be her grandfather).
Do I need to underline every word of the above sentence for people here to stop pretending this situation is something else?
This forum is full of programmers. Here, let me try logic:
IF ((girl.age == 16)
AND (girl.had_sex == TRUE)
AND (partner.age == 55)
AND (partner.is_rich_and_powerful == TRUE)
AND (girl.is_rich) == FALSE
AND (partner.paid_for_sex == TRUE)
girl.has_been_abused = TRUE
girl.has_not_been_abused.probability = MACHINE_EPSILON
Perhaps, but then there's all there more reason to do so. And thanks for lending your voice! Perhaps someone reading this will feel a bit better.
I think you may have glossed over this part of the comment you're responding to
He ran an interstate recruitment ring of underage girls not just for himself but for other men. There's no justifying anything with this man.
I don't think there is one real error here as you put it, but it's been made public he was warned about him before and people he worked with would refuse to go to his properties when invited and told him why (citation: https://medium.com/@EthanZ/on-me-and-the-media-lab-715bfc707...).
No need to be hostile, I'm just trying to understand the situation :)
Joi would love to pretend he (somehow) didn't know, but a colleague has come forward to say he warned him.
I think it's pretty common place to know a little bit about the background of anyone who is an investor in your interests. When you take or solicit an investment there's often a conscious cost-benefit decision on those dollars. Even people who need money and want to take risks often want to make the best risky decisions and deliberately place their bets.
Considering that that's basically pocket change to the MIT Media Lab they can afford to do their due diligence and turn people down if need be.
Some small charity you've never heard of that runs a summer camp for inner city kids or some no-name research lab at a state university's non-flagship campus (or whatever) is just gonna take the money because they can't afford to be picky. They're not gonna do background checks because the last thing they want is being in a position of weighing the need for money vs the ethics of who's giving it.
TL;DR: People and groups with less resources are less picky who they're willing to take money from but MIT doesn't have this excuse.
haha why are you proud of this? That's essentially the quintessential spirit of corruption representing everything wrong with this country and world.
It's a little different if you're a pro-privacy organization or climate change researcher and google or exxon starts stuffing you with money. There's a material conflict of interest in cases like that. That's the exception, not the rule. Some hypothetical summer camp has no conflict of interest taking the Koch brothers' money even if it disagrees with their politics.
Good you can end up like a friend of a friend that realized his investors were part of the Israeli Mafia. That guy was one of the few people who was ecstatic when tech industry cratered in 2001.
Epstein is the exception--he was a level 3 offender and could have been pulled for a felony for not checking in with the police. He shouldn't even have been walking around.
"While most convicted sex offenders in Florida are sent to state prison, Epstein was instead housed in a private wing of the Palm Beach County Stockade and, according to the sheriff's office, was after 3 1⁄2 months allowed to leave the jail on "work release" for up to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. This contravened the sheriff's own policies requiring a maximum remaining sentence of 10 months and making sex offenders ineligible for the privilege. He was allowed to come and go outside of specified release hours.
Epstein's cell door was left unlocked, and he had access to the attorney room where a television was installed for him, before he was moved to the Stockade's previously unstaffed infirmary. He worked at the office of a foundation he had created shortly before reporting to jail; he dissolved it after he had served his time. The Sheriff's Office received $128,000 from Epstein's non-profit to pay for the costs of extra services being provided during his work release. His office was monitored by "permit deputies" whose overtime was paid by Epstein. They were required to wear suits, and checked in "welcomed guests" at the "front desk". Later the Sheriff's Office said these guest logs were destroyed per the department's "records retention" rules (although inexplicably the Stockade visitor logs were not). He was allowed to use his own driver to drive him between jail and his office and other appointments."
Info on his wikipedia page is well sourced: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Epstein#Conviction_and...
That's a sample headline from the first page of search results from the date range 2008-2013.
> I was never involved in, never heard him talk about, and never saw any evidence of the horrific acts that he was accused of.
But fine let's say you're right. "I knew he'd done this, but at his house I never saw evidence of rape or trafficking" isn't much better. He should resign.
Edit: Changed "unrealistic" to "presumptuous". I certainly think it's realistic that this person I've never heard of may be immoral or irresponsible, but what I don't understand is making that accusation based only on the correlation to the simple fact of his criminal background.
"Joi asked me in 2014 if I wanted to meet Epstein, and I refused and urged him not to meet with him."
Two: the justice system is supposed to work such that when you are done with it your debt to society is paid. The fact that Epstein got off so lightly, repeatedly, is the fundamental problem. An individual should not have to look up the criminal convictions of every person they interact with.
The justice system must exercise extreme caution. The standard for guilt is “beyond a reasonable doubt” which is a very high standard.
It’s precisely because the justice system must be so conservative that we in our private lives MUST do our best not simply to mirror the decisions of the courts, but to make decisions for ourselves.
It is ONLY in our private circles the victims have ANY chance at being protected, because the courts explicitly (and rightly) must wait for unequivocal proof.
Especially in sex crimes that proof is almost never there. Acceding to the courts is the equivalent of saying 90% of victims should receive no protection from anyone on Earth. And that there is no corner where they might be safe from their tormentor.
Hogwash. As we have seen so far, in Polanski, Weinstein, Cosby, Epstein, etc. these people did this repeatedly and were protected and enabled. The evidence was abundant and only needed someone in the justice system to actually do their job instead of covering it up in return for favors.
Sexual abuse in the single he said-she said case is problematic, and there may simply never be a good way to fix that.
Your way, however, allows accusations to destroy careers and reputations without evidence, and, in the case of genuine malicious actors, allows such accusations to become weaponized. See: Franken.
In addition, your mob justice is, in fact, most likely to enable these rich abusers because they don't really have to worry about the mob. Only plebeians like you and me will suffer at the hands of the mob because we don't have the resources to resist.
2. Yes, accusations destroy careers (of the falsely accused). Not believing accusations that haven’t been proven in court also destroys careers (of victims). So that’s not a real argument.
3. I’m not advocating any formation of mobs. I’m advocating individual employers, friends, family members make decisions for themselves and bar the accused from their private spaces at their discretion, not based on the decisions of the courts.
I’m an American though, so maybe I’m overly committed to private autonomy. But I’m not
going to defer to my government about the safety of my people.
Yeah, no. If you are a convicted child sex trafficker I won't do business with you ever, even if the state is done with you. If you would, I'd say that's a moral failing on your part.
I shouldn't have to even think about doing business with a convicted child sex trafficker because he should be in jail.
And anyone you or I have contact with would have been in jail until doomsday if convicted of that.
? The point OP was making is that the justice system is meant to have punished/rehabilitated him to a point where they are satisfied that he is no longer a danger to society.
If he hasn't served his time, then he shouldn't be walking free to do business with people.
Either it is legal for him to do business or it isn't, and it seems that it was legal for him to do business at that time.
The fact rich people seem to be able to manipulate the system to do easier/less time than others is a separate and very valid point.
Like OP said, if you or I did what he did, we'd be in jail forever.
Maybe in this case people should have known, but taking it to the extreme, citizens can't be expected to hire private investigators to learn about their business partners.
Edit: I hate meta comments, but getting downvoted for pointing out lies is tiring. I've read the apology. I'm right.
Plenty of SV investors looked the other way when Milner flooded the community with Kremlin-connected money, including PG (see his comments in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3143604 from 2011)
If they are not on the OFAC list, and we aren't involved in an illegal transaction, then what is the issue? I am looking for complete, articulate sentences here. I honestly don't know the other perspective and haven't been exposed to an articulate reason to attempt to financially isolate capital.
If optics of a particular name actually were of concern due to records and disclosures, I would say just use a lawyer or new entity in specific jurisdictions, or lawyer+entity. This is something I would recommend for everyone if they can afford it, just to avoid grifters that realize you might have money and are willing to move it around. And yes, this also prevents other scrutiny, and avoids anyone having to make the decisions I am trying to understand.
Do you or do you not have a cause to support? Do you or do you not have a supporter? Simple questions with simple answers.
Can someone here articulate why they would blacklist transactions or persons that are not blacklisted by the state? Even if Epstein was actually in prison he could direct funds to causes he wanted to support. Convictions have nothing to do with capital controls. Why are you trying to control capital?
Because it seems his donations bought him access as well.
1) Didn't the money also support causes and do what it was expected to do?
2) Isn't his predatory nature with this access only visible in hindsight? There are incentives not to be repeat offenders of the same kind of crime, let alone any crime as a prior convict.
3) What is the appropriate response here? Don't let any convicted felon try to redeem themselves via donations? Shut them out of capital based networking just like poorer convicts that need the workforce are shut out of it?
I don't see this is a valid response or a piece of a coordinated response. We should try to prosecute sexual assaulting maniacs better. But I'm open to you all's thoughts on this scenario and what I think the open questions are
I applaud that the author wants to try to use his voice to raise money for victims, this has nothing to do with having been a recipient of Epstein money previously, except for the possibility that the author's projects got funded and they were able to use that validation and project success to have a voice to begin with, instead of disappearing into the rat race of wage work like most of us.
My only disagreement with Ricky is that I'm not sure it was ever enough, but the people for whom it isn't enough now have a platform.
 https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/08/ricky-gervais-takes-o... is a write-up of the podcast interview
The way to fix this would be by introducing more accountability, but the national review would oppose such things as 'unneeded regulation'.
The widespread feeling now is that if you are rich and powerful, you do not face the consequences for your actions. There are some pretty good reasons for feeling that way too.
My hypothesis is that if we started increasing accountability, we would see a decrease to the type of behavior you're describing.
There was really no one who voiced disagreement at the time? If no, why? If yes, what did happened to their career and status in the organization? How were they argued again, how did the fight at the time went? Were they retaliated against at the time?
All these things matter and should matter, so that next time people voice dissenting opinions in case like this and are listened to.
This is why many people are not satisfied with a simple apology; it rings hollow because it is hollow and purely self-preserving. Life isn’t: “Press button here, apologize for bigotry, erase everyone’s memories.” The shit you say matters, whether 8 seconds or 8 years in the past, especially when such behavior was a regular part of Kevin Hart’s set for a long time, not an off-the-cuff comment.
Many people knew that homophobia was a bad thing 8 years ago. Treating gay people with respect is not a new invention.
Obviously this isn't the case when our theoretical Nazi is going around throwing up salutes and goose-stepping, but certainly no human can be judged for not being omniscient?
This "apology" arrived only after high-profile researchers at the lab have started quitting.
"Sorry we got caught."
If the funding wasn't conditioned on naming things in Epstein's honor or giving him authority over how funds were directed, why would much, if any, diligence be due?
A VC investing in a business assumes risk of the others failing (potentially on behalf of others, if it's a VC firm with other people's money), which makes it so that diligence about factors relevant to that performance due.
But accepting a no-strings donation from a charitable foundation? What makes particular diligence about the foundation’s head due?
(I'm not defending Ito here as it seems like he was in a position beyond accepting donations where he reasonably should have known about Epstein's background; I'm just curious about why one would argue that accepting a donation creates an expectation of vetting the head of the foundation providing the donation.)
The world needs more accountability, not less, especially amongst those in power. Patting this guy on the back for posting an apology on the internet is effectively approving of the status quo that got us here. MIT can and should do better.
You're correct in that this person should have known better, but I am also saying that it is entirely understandable how it happened and it appears that he is genuinely contrite and trying to make it better. What would you have done in that situation?
That's certainly an interesting philosophical and moral question. Personally I'm not sure where I would draw that line. I am, however, pretty comfortable saying that education institutions accepting money from people who admitted to sex crimes against minors is on the "nope" side of the line.
This is as good as agit-prop as any.
Sorry, but not sorry: why is it important that someone was associating with a child molester, if they never experienced or was witness to, or participated in, the said crime, has an opinion? Has to defend themselves, for association?
A conclusion one can reach, upon careful inspection: molesters live among us. You will not always recognise them. Be fearful, always, of the ones you think you can trust - for their altitude, for their contribution, for their gratitude.
Essentially, this is white terrorism.
Epstein was a heinous, now famous, human being. There are a lot more of them out there.
My guess is that you have shaken hands, at least once in your life, with someone who (unbeknownst to you) is a truly horrible person. It's life.
(2) The idea that anyone with this large of an involvement with Epstein was unaware that he had been convicted in 2008 strains one's credulity, to say the least. If at any point after Ito met Epstein, he had casually googled Epstein's name, he would have been inundated with information about his conviction. Not to mention that in his resignation letter, Ethan Zuckerman explicitly mentions that he told Ito not to meet with Epstein back in 2014. (http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2019/08/20/on-me-and-the-...)
You should read Ethan Zuckerman's resignation post as it offers much more information: http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2019/08/20/on-me-and-the-...
Ito was warned against getting involved with Epstein and he ignored those warnings.
I think there is also a separate debate here about whether Ito should accept or reject money from a donor who he knows is a sex offender.
Edit: seems like people are assuming he did know about that past, which is unclear to me.
According to Ethan Zuckerman, he "urged [Joi] not to meet with [Epstein]". Presumably Epstein's past was the reason for that urging.
I think that's the problem with the apology, he doesn't actually say what he's apologizing for. It's pretty clear that he's apologizing for taking money for someone he new was a sex-offender, but he doesn't actually say it, nevermind apologize for it.
He does say he was unaware of the evidence, and didn’t hear Epstein say anything about it.
It’s one thing to look through Epstein’s close social contacts and history of close business partners for people who may have known or engaged in illegal activity with him. This doesn’t meet those criteria, IMO.
> As the scale of Joi’s involvement with Epstein became clear to me, I began to understand that I had to end my relationship with the MIT Media Lab.
This doesn't go into enormous detail, but I wouldn't say he "doesn't detail what was inappropriate".
To be clear, he has pledged to do the second already, sort of.
I mean I probably had to go through more for each of my job interviews and any corresponding background checks. Furthermore, MIT probably assesses potential students more thoroughly than what happened in this account of the event.
> The person making the gift is called the donor and the person receiving the gift is called the donee.
I don't think it's that simple. Due diligence is organizational security, and a good amount people have a lax attitude towards security.
Raising money to combat human (child sex) trafficking is a worthy endeavor; go for it.
> I will also return the money that Epstein has invested in my investment funds.
Using well-earned money for evil is bad. Using ill-gotten money for good is good. If you think MIT Media Lab's research is good, keep the money and use it for good. Giving money (back) to a bad source just makes matters worse. At best it's a vain attempt to wash your hands of the situation.
> Regrettably, over the years, the Lab has received money through some of the foundations that he controlled. I knew about these gifts and these funds were received with my permission. I also allowed him to invest in several of my funds which invest in tech startup companies outside of MIT.
Was Epstein's money even ill-gotten? The man's deplorable personal crimes seem orthogonal to his wealth, or at least the causality runs from wealth to crime, not the other way around.
What exactly did Ito do wrong here? It sounds like he had no knowledge of Epstein's misdeeds while they were associates.
He should step down from the boards of the Media Lab and The New York Times. Far more information is provided in Ethan's resignation letter than in Ito's "apology":
There's no way Ito didn't know about this, it would come up with a simple Google search. Investors do diligence.
Shouldn't post this be a dupe?
In fact, it's probably safe to assume that anyone accepting investments from the Middle East or Asia has very likely dealt with or taken money from people engaging in the same or worse conduct, only that it hasn't been prosecuted there.
If this here is the standard by which things ought to be measured and decided now, then I would expect a lot of money be returned and/or given to NGOs and charities.
But then, I suspect this is mostly moral posturing and virtue signalling, so nothing substantial will happen.
> I suspect this is mostly moral posturing and virtue signalling
Indeed, though I refer to a different "this".
If the policy is "don't accept money from anyone abusing children (or at any rate people under 18)", then I suggest that a lot more due diligence is required.
I can understand the need to make a statement, but seems to me that there was no lapse in judgement exercised at the time, but rather an unfortunate crossing-of-paths in retrospect.
This is very strange phrasing. I would certainly say victims.
Perhaps English isn’t his native tongue, but I doubt he wrote this himself or alone. It seems to both eschew responsibility and subtly remind everyone to be grateful it wasn’t worse.
They look like you and me.
i honestly think in situations like this, when you get money from an awful person, the only place that that money should go is somewhere where it can do good in the world to offset the negative influence of the individual that provided it. just sending it back is basically saying "i worry more about maintaining my image than potentially helping people here and now when I can". sure, the whole "im going to work to match all the donations" thing is a good way to hedge your bets, but really, DRY should be a virtue in more than just coding. reduplication of effort is a bad code smell, and I'm sure that inefficiency extends to other domains in some analogous manner as well
This is damage control pure and simple and without tact. Had this been disclosed say a month earlier as the new criminal case began to form, this apology might actually mean something other than "Shit now everyone sees this putrid stink cloud is hanging around me too."
Excusatio non petita, accusatio manifesta.
No, but if I'm trying to get someone to give me money for a project, invite them to my lab, and visit "several of their residences" I would definitely look them up
Also, I never even heard about this guy until a few months ago, it obviously wasn’t high enough media profile for my radar. What did his Wikipedia page look like last year?
Edit: I checked Wikipedia from 2012. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jeffrey_Epstein&o... All the allegations and convictions were listed, so I’ll take back my comment and admit this was a failure of minimal due diligence (or outright not caring).
If you don't know that a person is bad, then you just don't know. People didn't know Bundy was a serial killer, and we shouldn't fault them for not knowing. You don't know what you don't know. That's not a fault. That's not something you have to apologize for.
Frankly, nobody seems to have given lark about this guy until the new broke again this time. I'm not sure if it was his connections with many obviously famous people and the time peroid this took place, but before the MeToo movement it seems like many famous people had things like this swept under the rug or people looked the other way. I'm sure it's still happening, but hopefully more light will be shed on bad people in positions of wealth and power.
Even if both of those had been appropriate, his sentence fair and he was making obvious efforts to avoid past behavior, you couldn't be sure that you weren't taking money that was generated from the trafficking of other human beings. That's where Ito fucked up, plain and simple.
If they didn't know they were a pedophile, then they didn't willingly associate with a pedophile.
He's either lying or he was willfully ignorant, both of which amount to the same complete disregard of ethics.
By the same token, will the organizations that fight trafficking take Epstein-tainted money?
He ought to resign immediately. This is CYA apology. He's taking responsibility in words only. It's disgraceful.
To me, putting out this apology vaguely comes off as something like “virtue signaling” or “fishing for sympathy”. I’m not saying it actually is either of those things, I just don’t know the exact words to describe how I feel about it.
Somebody please let me know if I am wrong and an apology is in fact appropriate from this person.
Yeah, how could he have known a guy convicted 5 years before they met was a high-profile abuser. I guess he could have asked lab founder, Minsky, about what services he received from Epstein.
If we don’t want to believe in rehabilitation (not that it did Jeffery any good), then in that case, a resignation seems more appropriate than a few words for an apology.
Ito visited Epstein several times at Epstein's residences, which all apparently are plastered with enough "art" to make someone question if he really was a "reformed" sex offender. It should be perfectly clear to everyone that Ito understood two things: Epstein wasn't rehabilitated and Ito could claim enough plausible deniability if his dirty laundry ever got aired. His apology would be more meaningful if he actually donated to charities out of his own pocket rather than promising to externally raise funds...
Check out the his Wikipedia entry on how lax that sentence was.
But Ito doesn't even try to use that defense in his apology, because it would make explicit that he knowingly took money from a sex-offender. So instead he doesn't mention Epstein's conviction at all, uses some weasel language to make it sound like he was unaware of it without explicitly saying so, and tries to make it sound like he (Ito) was just a victim of circumstances.
It's a pretty impressive non-apology apology, since he makes a big show of apologizing for something, but not the actual thing most people find troubling about his behavior.
How can you expect somebody to deduce when they are dealing with a secret pedophile?
As somebody else pointed out, Jeffery already had a record at that point though. But now the question is: should a person continue to get punished for wrong doing after they had served their time? Sure the answer seems obvious with Jeffery in hindsight, but I don’t think it’s obvious that the
This apology would've meant something had it happened a month ago. Or if had any substance beyond vague usage of the words apology and sorry.
The apology is appropriate, but not because he had anything to apologize for, rather to attempt to quell the "outrage" of the holier-than-thou masses.