> According to Swenson, Ito had informed Cohen that Epstein “never goes into any room without his two female ‘assistants,’ ” whom he wanted to bring to the meeting at the Media Lab. Swenson objected to this, too, and it was decided that the assistants would be allowed to accompany Epstein but would wait outside the meeting room.
> On the day of the visit, Swenson’s distress deepened at the sight of the young women. “They were models. Eastern European, definitely,” she told me. Among the lab’s staff, she said, “all of us women made it a point to be super nice to them. We literally had a conversation about how, on the off chance that they’re not there by choice, we could maybe help them.”
Ito worked with someone whom his staff suspected of continuing to traffic women — right there in their own office.
He also enriched himself from this relationship. From this NYT article:
> Mr. Ito acknowledged this past week taking $525,000 of Mr. Epstein’s money for the lab, as well as $1.2 million for his personal investment funds.
So they should either clearly say underage-looking girls or remove that paragraph because it's irrelevant and confusing.
I mean this is a story about child abuse and the author didn't think to ask those women if the "models" looked underage?
This guy was having sex with underage teens and possibly pre-teens, not "models" and not "young women".
FTFY. An adult can’t “have sex” with a pre-teen.
As an example pedophilia in Finland is defined in criminal code as having sex with a person under 16. Rape is a different crime.
Sure you can also define it using rape and defining that a minor cannot give consent.
In the end these are just semantics. End result is the same.
Sure, some cultures or religions might say otherwise, but at the end of the day it’s just basic ethics.
It is just semantics, but everything in our life is semantics, so words are important. “Having sex” makes it sound casual and like relationship of equals, which it is not.
Here it’s quite common that an 18 and 15 year old who are dating are being relieved from the criminal responsibility because they are considered to be close enough in their stages of development by the judge.
It may be harder to do that if it’s defined via rape. Because how would the development level of the older partner affect the younger ones inability to consent.
Personally I’d rather have this way instead of reading from the news how a married couple has the older one saying they are a registered sex offender because they banged eachother as teens.
Only if you don't understand the meaning that someone is intending to impart by using those words.
And I'd say that in this case, there should have been zero confusion, and that it was perfectly clear what people were trying to say, so the words used don't matter.
But Signe Swenson wasn't as willing to put up with that, even if she couldn't personally stop it. And by 2016, she was in the room too.
You can look at this through a "fuck the patriarchy" lens or insist on the fact that this was just people being people. But at the end of the day this is why diversity matters. Epstein's lures only worked on hetero men, and he fell when faced with a world of influential women.
You're being hyperspecific here with your disagreement.
I think if start enumerating them, you'll find almost all of those advantages you believe in are isomorphic to "different perspectives prevent groupthink". And alignment with the social world of a hyper-rich sex peddler is absolutely a kind of groupthink, no?
Again, Epstein could have his way with organizations run by horny men. That was literally his scam. And as the article (and others) details, this remained true even after he got caught, because enough horny men didn't "really" see what he did as so bad. But that ended once someone was in the room who didn't see things through that lens. That is diversity at work.
I'm not saying her worldview and background didn't help here. I'm disputing the idea that people of the same gender are unable to do the same. The fact of his multiple investigations points towards plenty of other people likely some female and some hetero normative males played significant parts there. Again, sniffing out sexual predators just isn't the exclusive domain of people with different genders than the predator.
No, I'm taking an illustrative (and, frankly, really apt) example as a way to show readers here (who like you aren't generally very receptive to feminist arguments) the power of "diversity" in a way that makes immediate sense.
I'm certainly not saying that no straight man could possibly have been offended by Epstein. But, just as a matter of historical fact, most of his marks were fine with him, and they were AFAIK exclusively straight men.
I have heard about Epstein, obviously with hindsight all sorts of things he did can be seen in a new light. I just don't understand what is so damning about the passage above.
Would somebody who is trafficking women really take them everywhere he goes? I thought it would be more of a secret affair.
If your point is "they probably weren't trafficked at least in the lurid sense we mean when we talk about trafficking", sure, but that's not the point. The point is that Ito's collaboration with Epstein was not incidental, but rather deliberate, overt, and actually disruptive to the operations of the Lab.
I guess it could be seen as damning that his staff thought that way, implying some unhealthy context - as you said, if I understood correctly.
Or in other words, the damning part was not the young assistants, the damning part was MIT staff worrying about young assistants.
† Not all jobs! Just jobs like "Director of MIT Media Lab", where you're stepping into a high-profile role that you don't otherwise own or have some other moral claim on.
While that's all well and good when it's an issue you agree with, would you be willing to apply that standard in the other direction? If Joi Ito had created a controversy by standing on principle for something you believed in, would you say the same thing?
My point being that you cannot divorce the distraction/disruption from the ethical view of the action itself. Many things are disruptive, but some disruptive things are ethically important. We do not want to discourage prominent figures from taking controversial stances simply because it might distract from the mission of their organization. At least, I don't think that's a healthy thing to do in an untargeted way.
I'm not really sure what this even means. Everyone has some moral right to the position they're in. The question is how much.
> He had to know this was going to happen; the last few weeks of drama have come entirely at the Lab's expense, seemingly as a long-shot gamble that Ito might weather the storm.
This is sort of the crux of my point, though. Your original argument which you seem to be backing off of is that controversy alone is a distraction, and therefore he ought to step down because he caused controversy. And the fact that he caused controversy is certainly unequivocal.
What is equivocal is whether or not he did something wrong. And that is the true issue on which the rectitude of his resignation turns. It seems to me that he probably believed he didn't do anything wrong, and as such had a moral right to retain his position because he believed he did nothing wrong. Not that anyone in a position of power should resign as soon as they cause a stir.
* Ito's position at MIT was so compromised that, for the good of the organization, he needed to quit. He had an obligation to do so; MIT didn't owe him his role, but rather he had joined to serve MIT. He was doing so no longer.
* One reason he was so compromised, in my estimation of the available information, is that he repeatedly did something egregiously wrong. Once again: I've never even heard of a boss anywhere else in technology putting their employees in a position where they felt they may have had to intervene --- at the workplace --- to thwart sex trafficking by an invited VIP guest.
The former argument I think is clear and defensible even if you harbor doubts about how bad Ito's actions were.
Of course MIT has the right to fire him. I don't really understand what you're trying to argue. The question is whether they should have fired him, which in my view is entirely determined by the badness of his actions.
I really cannot see you pursuing this line of argument with the moral tables turned. If the CFO of Chik-fil-a got forced out because it turned out they were supporters of gay marriage and Chikfila's customers didn't like that, would you be making the same point? That that CFO had no moral right to their position?
> * One reason he was so compromised, in my estimation of the available information, is that he repeatedly did something egregiously wrong. Once again: I've never even heard of a boss anywhere else in technology putting their employees in a position where they felt they may have had to intervene --- at the workplace --- to thwart sex trafficking by an invited VIP guest.
I think that's a very unfair framing of the issue. He invited Epstein over. Epstein brought his 'assistants'. It's still a question mark whether they were even prostitutes, let alone prostitutes operating in any sort of non-consensual capacity. What we have here is simply that someone at MIT speculated whether they were being trafficked. There is no evidence at all that their presence was anything other than consensual.
How is it unfair? Have you ever been put in a position at work where it even crossed your mind that associates of a guest your boss invited might be sex trafficked? Have you even heard of that happening until now? We are talking about a truly extraordinary situation; can we not agree that if you have to even consider the question, something is very wrong?
The focus on whether or not they were correct about these particular women being trafficked is myopic. It’s 2019, and we have the benefit of hindsight: Epstein was indeed still sex trafficking. This instance may or may not have been an example of that, but ultimately the Media Lab employees’ fears about him were borne out.
Is it prostitution? Sexual slavery?
Why do you use such an unclear term in a discussion?
Yes: if under "sex trafficking" we understand [consensual] "prostitution", then in some states it is OK.
But even if "sex trafficking" is not ok -- there are various degrees of "not ok".
That is why it is important to use clear definitions in a discussion. Unclear "sex trafficking" term converts discussion from rational to irrational, when everyone is free to imagine what exactly "sex trafficking" means.
> We literally had a conversation about how, on the off chance that they’re not there by choice, we could maybe help them.
The stories that these girls told suggest that they were free to leave.
2) Is "forced suicide" a fair punishment for pimps?
Of course i've heard of that happening. People speculate all the time that older men out with younger, attractive women are being "trafficked" in the sense meant here. That sense being: they're prostitutes / escorts. Sometimes it's true, sometimes it's not.
> The focus on whether or not they were correct about these particular women being trafficked is myopic. It’s 2019, and we have the benefit of hindsight: Epstein was indeed still sex trafficking. This instance may or may not have been an example of that, but ultimately the Media Lab employees’ fears about him were borne out.
The entire point under discussion however turns on the question of whether or not the evidence of him engaging in this behavior warranted him being exiled by MIT at the time. Not the evidence today.
That is not the question. Has your boss at your tech job ever invited an important guest to your workplace, who brought associates whom you reasonably thought might be there against their will?
> The entire point under discussion however turns on the question of whether or not the evidence of him engaging in this behavior warranted him being exiled by MIT at the time. Not the evidence today.
No, the discussion is about whether Ito should have known at the time to not work with Epstein. tptacek is also arguing that he should have left once Epstein’s involvement with Media Lab was first discovered, since he had to know the depth of the story.
No, and neither did Epstein. They had no reasonable basis to assume these women were there against their will.
> No, the discussion is about whether Ito should have known at the time to not work with Epstein. tptacek is also arguing that he should have left once Epstein’s involvement with Media Lab was first discovered, since he had to know the depth of the story.
I think you just reiterated my point. Yes, the question is whether, at the time Ito should have known not to work with Epstein. Whether the publicly available information at the time was sufficient to justify his exile from MIT.
However, I note that the article avoids actually stating that the women appeared to be underage. It avoids saying anything about their age or appearance at all, other than that they were attractive. Had they appeared to be underage, that likely would have been made explicit in the article, since it fits the fact pattern that the article is trying to establish. Therefore we can reasonably conclude that the women in question did not appear to anyone to be underage. And as such, it is likely that they were simply high class escorts, and under no form of duress and in no need of rescue by anyone.
So dude who is (at the time) convicted of a sexual crime involving a minor shows up at MIT Media Lab with a pair of very young, model-looking women assistants, what what are rational moral actors supposed to think? That he's just a railroaded maverick?
It was unstated what the age or appearance of the women in question was. If they were of legal age, then they were likely simply escorts, in no need of anyone's rescue. If they appeared to be underage, that likely would have been stated in the article.
People resign over things all the time. That isn't really evidence of much at all.
> Every single comment you have posted about this includes some blatant misrepresentation
You keep acting like you've made actual points, but you haven't. I'm happy to listen to your point of view, if you actually want to articulate one. You are calling out "misrepresentations". What do you think i've misrepresented?
I have articulated a justification for that comparison. You making an actual point would be referencing that justification and attempting to debunk it. That's how you make actual points.
> Somewhere in the middle you made up a definition of 'ostracism'.
I made one up? MIT refusing to accept donations from someone is not my definition of ostracism. It is the definition of ostracism. You may believe that that ostracism is justified, but the word's meaning is quite clear.
> Now you're saying a person convicted of sexual abuse of a minor should raise no questions when he brings women half his age to an MIT fundraising meeting.
I did not, in fact, say that.
No. Not even close. I left you a lengthy comment about this to which you did not respond.
I have articulated
You're making excuses for a child rapist. Over and over and over. Again, what the fuck, man? Once again, I'm asking you this directly.
I responded now. I simply hadn't seen it.
> You're making excuses for a child rapist. Over and over and over. Again, what the fuck, man? Once again, I'm asking you this directly.
I'm not sure why you insist on misreading me. I'm not making excuses for a child rapist. I'm not excusing Epstein's behavior. I'm excusing Ito's behavior.
Are you arguing that he did nothing wrong? In that case why did he hide his actions from MIT, after it had explicitly blacklisted Epstein as a donor?
> someone at MIT speculated ... There is no evidence at all that their presence was anything other than consensual.
Maybe so, but they had good reason to. Epstein by that point had already been convicted on the sex offender charge. And then he was going around accompanied by young European women, and there's nothing suspicious about that? Come on.
Yes i'm arguing that Joi (not Epstein, obviously) did nothing wrong. I don't believe he did hide what he was doing from MIT - he hid it from the public, by not listing Epstein as a donor.
> Maybe so, but they had good reason to. Epstein by that point had already been convicted on the sex offender charge. And then he was going around accompanied by young European women, and there's nothing suspicious about that? Come on.
If these European women were underage, sure. If they were adults, what's the problem here? If they were underage, or the other employees of the media lab suspected they were underage, that would have been made explicit in the article. But it wasn't, therefore they weren't. Which means the only explanation for the term 'trafficking' in this context would be that Epstein was holding them against their will, something I don't think he's ever actually been accused of.
Which is all a long-winded way of saying that the notion that the employees at the media lab were worried these European women were "trafficked" is bullshit. What they were actually made uncomfortable by was that these women were essentially prostitutes, and that I understand. That'd make me uncomfortable too. But it's not the same as bringing non-consensual slaves to your MIT meetings as implied by the phrasing of the article.
They have some kind of right without any obligations? Care to expand?
> It seems to me that he probably believed he didn't do anything wrong, and as such had a moral right to retain his position because he believed he did nothing wrong
The latest reveal is that Joi Ito deliberately hid interactions with Epstein from the rest of the lab and from MIT.
His earlier denials were lies he told to keep his position.
The strongest possible form of your argument becomes 'He thought the behavior was fine but knew that others would disagree, so he deceived them to manage the situation', which is not exactly a slam dunk for your moral rights argument.
I'd like to think that this would harm Ito's reputation, but fully expect him to be installed somewhere cushy soon enough. This likely makes him more attractive to a certain type of employer.
Though it seems more pragmatic than a moral right.
We are not computer programs incapable of making judgements without relying on some arbitrary and sweeping generalization.
We can, in fact, distinguish between making a stand to support human rights or speak truth to power, say, and taking a stand to continue to engage with a convicted pedophile.
See also: https://mobile.twitter.com/dril/status/473265809079693312
The other parable is the one of Write Two Letters.
* Clearly, Ito was very much at fault in this instance. The coverup!
There are a number of suspicious circumstances regarding Epstein's alleged suicide. In no particular order:
* Multiple bones in Epstein's neck were broken. This is possible in a suicide, but broken bones are more consistent with a homicide. 
* Multiple video cameras malfunctioned outside Epstein's cell coincident with his death. 
* Epstein's guards, who were supposed to be regularly checking on him did not. They were "asleep" before, during, and after Epstein's death. They later falsified records about this fact. 
* The explanation for the failed video cameras and the sleeping guards is that the MCC is under staffed. Yet, that's at odds with the fact that there was only one other suicide in the past 40 years at the MCC .
I try to think about how I would regard Epstein's death if it happened in a history book, in a foreign country.
"There was a guy who had material implicating numerous powerful figures. While he was being held in prison, recently released from suicide watch, isolated from his former cell mate in a cell by himself, cameras failed, his guards stopped checking on him, he became the first suicide in more than a couple decades by hanging himself by kneeling so forcefully against his bed sheet  that he broke multiple bones in his neck."
I don't think, if I were reading about this at a distance, that I would have any real doubts about considering Epstein murdered. The idea that Epstein's suicide is as simple as alleged strikes me as preposterous.
You don't know much about ligaturing, do you?
> Epstein's guards, who were supposed to be regularly checking on him did not. They were "asleep" before, during, and after Epstein's death. They later falsified records about this fact.
This is worryingly common in prison and mental health hospitals.
> Yet, that's at odds with the fact that there was only one other suicide in the past 40 years at the MCC .
Do you know what they're counting and how they count it? How do they define "suicide" and "at the MCC"?
This news source  goes over multiple academic papers that attempt to measure the likelihood of neck bone fractures in suicide versus homicide victims. On my own, I've searched and found multiple additional academic papers that, while disagreeing on the exact probabilities, all support the general conclusion that neck bone fractures are possible in a suicide but more likely in a homicide.
The implication of your comment is that, unlike me, you do know much about ligaturing, so I'd be interested in getting your expert opinion. Are neck bone fractures equally likely in suicidal hanging and homicidal strangulation?
You also write that the guards falling asleep is "worryingly common". I'm sure that's true - but what worries me most about this case is the confluence of multiple unlikely circumstances. Unfortunately the guards fell asleep, unluckily the video cameras failed, against the odds multiple bones in his neck broke while he knelt against his bed sheet, and, surprisingly, Epstein was the first suicide in 21 years at the facility.
Regarding your question about definitions - my understanding is that "suicide" is meant as a person killing themselves, and "at the MCC" means an MCC inmate who killed themselves at the MCC.
1 - https://heavy.com/news/2019/08/jeffrey-epstein-hyoid-bone-br...
> Are neck bone fractures equally likely in suicidal hanging and homicidal strangulation?
It's not a question I'd ask. We don't need to know which is more likely. We only need to know that it's perfectly possible and normal to break bones in the neck from ligaturing.
> Regarding your question about definitions - my understanding is that "suicide" is meant as a person killing themselves,
This is wrong.
Hypothetical Bob takes an overdose of pills, but does not intend to die. He calls an ambo. The ambo doesn't get there in time, and Bob dies. Bob took an action that ended his life: did Bob die by suicide?
> and "at the MCC" means an MCC inmate who killed themselves at the MCC.
Is it where the death happens, or where the action that causes death happens? If someone takes an overdose of medication and is then transferred to hospital does that count as a death at MCC or a death at the hospital?
The point I'm trying, and failing, is that suicide is very common, especially among prisoners, especially among those facing trial for sex crimes. You've present four items that you think are unusual, especially when combined. But these are not in anyway unusual. They're very common.
The thing that stands out is the "no suicide here for X years" which is clearly nonsense. I can't be bothered to trawl through Manhattan laws and stats to try to understand it, but if people wanted to they might want to look at who rules a death as suicide, why they might chose not to do so, what definition of suicide they're using (especially around mental state and intent), what burden of proof they're using (beyond all reasonable doubt or balance or probabilities), and where the deaths occur and whether that makes any difference to the stats.
This is actually a meaningful question. We know that Epstein died and had bone fractures and are trying to determine whether the cause of death was murder, or suicide. How likely is the homicide conclusion given bone fractures? How likely is suicide? This strikes me as a time to apply Bayes Theorem and update our beliefs about certain explanations.
To put the situation into a metaphor involving urns - suppose you have drawn a red ball from an unlabeled urn. You know the urn is either an urn containing 80% red balls, or an urn containing 20% red balls. Are you ambivalent about which the urn you've just drawn from is? Statistically speaking, you should not be - having drawn a red ball, while possible to do from either urn, is more likely done from the 80% red urn.
To explain the metaphor - the red ball is a bone fracture, the 80% red urn is homicide, and the 20% red urn is suicide.
I'm surprised to see you disagree about the definition of suicide. The example you gave doesn't seem to be compelling evidence of ambiguity in the term. In your example, an inmate has taken an action that resulted in his death and this is clearly suicide. The fact that your notional inmate didn't intend to die may make for a philosophical debate about the definition of suicide - but given that nobody could know what the true intentions of the recently deceased were - it seems perfectly obvious that, yes, a man who has killed himself by taking too many pills has committed suicide.
I think this is a poor line of argument. The idea you are advocating, as I understand it, is that, there are possible alternative meanings for the words "suicide" and "at the MCC", and though you don't have any evidence that those alternative definitions exist or are in use, you're willing to offer that possibility as a criticism of what is reported in major news outlets. I agree that news outlets may have gotten confused about possible non-standard definitions of terms like "suicide" or "at the MCC" - but I disagree that we should assume this is the case without any evidence to think so.
You also write that the four circumstances I've presented are "very common". Without knowing how you mean the term "very common" I can't agree with that characterization. I'm also not at all convinced you have any idea how common it is for multiple video cameras on the same subject to fail, for guards to sleep through their rounds, for guards to falsify their records, for multiple neck bones to break during sheet strangling suicides, or for prisoners at the MCC to truly commit suicide. If I'm wrong, and you do know how likely these things are, kindly share a reputable source that explains the likelihood. I'd find that enlightening.
The greater story of this scandal has parts that should never have happened and parts that were fine. Giving money to MIT and visiting with a bevy of attractive women is eccentric - crass even - but not troubling. The scandal isn't Epstein's giving it is that he was running a child prostitution ring.
I understand assuming innocence the first time someone is accused of anything unsavory because mistakes happen. But once you are convicted, serve jail time and are suspiciously behaving in the same manner...
Who are we serving by assuming innocence?
And let me remind you that in society we have different standards than a court of law. A court of law has to assume innocence, in public we might be doing another human being who is a potential victim great good by expressing concern about the nature their relationship with a known felon & abuser.
Of course, in this case, the fellow turned out to be a monster. But Sir Richard Branson is on the level AFAIK and he hangs out with attractive women. Presumably they enjoy the company.
EDIT: I can't answer the threads below because I've been timed out for making this comment. Fair enough, but I should clarify: My point is _precisely that_. It's the child prostitution that's the problem. You can just point at the "solicitation of a minor" thing directly. Making it about the attractive Eastern European women is completely unnecessary and only useful to decry the notion that they may choose otherwise than what the MIT folks would choose.
Now, making straw men of anyone who dares espouse anything less than full belief in the guilt of the accused, that's definitely a deranged mob kind of thing to do. People assuming the worst about others' motives is the dominant reason we can't have nice things.
This is extremely good question that I continue to be unable to find an answer. Much bigger case than Epstein would be that of Donald Trump. Everyone knew he is a six-time bankruptee, posted record $1B (billion) dollar loss with IRS and haven't made any of his many business ventures successful, other than add some to the real estate fortune that his father left him, but nothing too spectacular (growing $400MM to $600MM in two decades, which adjusted for inflation is probably close to zero). Yet the consensus of 2016 was that he is the only man
capable of steering forward a budget of the most valuable country on the face of planet Earth. Its boggling my mind, frankly.
To be fair, more people who voted didn't think he was the best choice of a person "capable of ..." than thought he was. He only won thanks to a) a quirk of the American electoral system and b) his opponent also being historically unpopular, by nature of having been in the public eye on one side of the US political system for 25 years.
I can certainly agree with b) but a) is not a very useful way of looking at things. if you went back and changed nothing else about the election except making popular vote the win condition, hillary clinton would obviously have won. but this small modification would have totally changed the campaign strategy of every candidate. people who didn't bother voting might have voted. donald trump might have won anyway with a different strategy. we might not even have been choosing between trump and clinton in the first place!
not saying the electoral college is good, just that this isn't a strong argument to the contrary.
What quirk is that? It has a lot of quirks, and I think you mean one in particular but not sure which one.
Innocent of what? Nobody is accusing Epstein of trying to do anything suspect via the MIT media lab. Anyone who thought he'd be wandering around MIT dragging trafficked women around with him is probably hypersensitive. Or Epstein was outrageously foolish. Either way; the reasonable assumption is that those women were probably not trafficked.
The argument here is "nobody should associate with Epstine" vs. "We can isolate the good and the bad parts of Epstine's actions and keep them somewhat separate". There is no need for someone to resign because they happened to know Epstien in a professional capacity.
That is an odd position to take. We have the benefit of hindsight. Even if these particular women weren’t being trafficked, the staff’s general suspicions about Epstein were borne out.
In that it's extremely common. In the gritty real world, people know of such guys and what they do. Many have personality men such gentlemen and their entourages (of course most not at the level of Epstein, but frequent some circles in Eastern Europe, Russia, Paris, London, Italy, etc, and you'll meet such guys, no doubt in Asia and L. America too), and know what "assistants" who look like models and are from Eastern Europe sum up to...
Of course it won't be as evident to someone in rural Iowa, or growing up in the boy scouts, they'd need to have things spelt out for them...
>Would somebody who is trafficking women really take them everywhere he goes? I thought it would be more of a secret affair.
At such meetings like at MIT usually no.
But shady rich guys with political/drug/mafia/trafficking connections take their women (even underage or barely legal) all around, in restaurants, boats, nightclubs, business deals, parties, etc. And not just criminal/underworld types: this even includes world leaders, like Berlusconi, all kinds of royalty, rich moguls, etc...
In some countries you can't throw a rock in a public event without hitting one such...
I wouldn't consider it overly weird if rich guys have young girl-friends. Maybe it is just because Hollywood has groomed me to expect it, I don't know.
Well, that pretty much sums up what Epstein did.
You don't even need to burn passports, you can psychologically manipulate, threaten, beat up, hook on drugs, pass to friends, parade your powerful connections (event to the law), explain how they have no alternatives, and so on.
Especially if you're a ultra-rich mogul with personal guards and powerful friends, and they're some teenage girl from some poor eastern european family that you promise money or to get "exposure", and so on...
"(...) The girls he allegedly abused were largely from troubled backgrounds, either in the foster care system, from broken families, or below the poverty line".
-- and as young as 14 year old, at that. Does "convince" really apply?
>Did he actually do all those other things, beatings, threatening?
(...) Multiple women say they attempted to refuse Epstein, but to no avail.
“I was terrified and I was telling him to stop,” said Araoz, recounting one visit during which Epstein raped her.
“If I left Epstein … he could have had me killed or abducted, and I always knew he was capable of that if I did not obey him,” another alleged victim, Virginia Roberts, said during a hearing.
14 year olds, too - but those "assistants" presumably were older.
Threats - threats are threats, going beyond "manipulation".
I'm struggling to understand your motivations. This should be a clear and obvious case of someone who was really fucked up, did fucked up things, and deserves nobody in polite society defending him.
And yet here we are having this discussion, somehow.
I asked a question about a paragraph describing a scene of a guy visiting MIT Media Lab with young assistants (not teens, they were described s young women), and Media lab staff being concerned.
I did not have the context of Epstein already being convicted as a sex offender.
There was nothing in that paragraph about Epstein having sex with teens, and I didn't mention that, either.
I am merely of the opinion that in general, young women from Eastern Europe should also be allowed to work as assistants for old men. That doesn't imply I endorse older men taking advantage of teens.
You can't remove this question from its context. The people at MIT Media Lab who were worried about it certainly were aware of the context, and they were worried, but ultimately forced to go along with it because their boss wanted the money too badly.
Also, enough with the "just asking questions". Instead of asking lots of questions, just go read the relevant articles and learn the truths directly, rather than requiring people to spoonfeed you through HN comments.
Epstein had sex with girls younger than 18.
But was is against their will?
Epstein is dead, so he does not care if anybody defends him. But if we want to understand how Epstein operated, we should question the accusations.
However, here I didn't even talk about his sex exploits. I only asked about a paragraph about perceiving a man with young assistants.
How do you tell the difference between the sex-trafficked, forced-into-servitude eastern european model-assistants, and the eastern european models who see an opportunity to make a lot of money and a lot of connections, and take it?
The people who are blind to it are probably willfully blind, not naive. (Excepting young children of course.)
Otherwise, please explain what special powers old rich men would have over young women.
The power that comes from being rich, well connected, parading powerful friends (even judges, politicians, financiers, and so on), aides, bodyguards, the means to have them beaten or killed if you want to, and so on? The power to get them fired from their jobs? The powerful to do "Eyes Wide Shut" level shit to them and them knowing it?
Or you expected some magical power that applies to every old rich person in any situation between them and a young woman?
Sorry, that seems extremely unlikely. I find it shocking that you think that way.
Just because somebody is rich also doesn't mean they can simply destroy other people's lives at will.
Btw I have personally witnessed for example young women courting old professors, who certainly didn't have any power to destroy their life. They did have some power to further their career, though.
Expect: yes, I think in most cases it is simply that the young women expect some advantage from the rich guy. Maybe just material things, or maybe just more fun. Maybe they enjoy riding on yachts more than riding on skateboards, or whatever.
I have seen many young women court older men for various reasons.
The term sugar daddy comes to mind.
One can question the basis of such relationships, but I think it's a huge stretch to suggest they always arise out of force or coercion.
You seem to be repeatedly ignoring the context of Epstein's criminal conviction.
Inadvertently I’m sure, your and some other people’s posts here come across as normalising the outward behaviour of Epstein and people like him. But the behaviour of Epstein in particular is not normalisable. The women concerned about the status of the girls Epstein took with him weren’t faced with ‘a rich guy with some young girls’. They were faced with this rich guy with these young girls, face to face, with all the emotional context of actual direct human interaction.
I can image he a situation in which I meet an older guy with some young girls and it’s all fine. I can also imagine ones where I would be deeply uncomfortable and queasy about the interpersonal dynamics going on.
The women at the lab weren’t in a hypothetical situation, they were in a specific real life situation, and the way it made them feel was clearly very, very uncomfortable to the point of deep distress.
So I can see why you think talking about hypotheticals is all fine and you don’t understand why it upsets people. But a lot of wealthy powerful people have spent a lot of effort trying to normalise, justify, write off and cover for Epstein’s behaviour. Those efforts created a context where Epstein was able, again, to traffic and sexually abuse children. So any direction of the discussion towards a context that even inadvertently appears to be normalising any aspect of his behaviour, well, I’d say this thread at this time on this topic isn’t the time or place.
Critical thinking can tell you there is a higher chance the women were sex trafficked considering the employer and his immoral proclivities. It can't tell you if they actually were or not.
1) If a powerful man who has been accused of sex trafficking
2) shows up with two girls less than half his age,
3) who are from eastern europe (while he is an American, not exactly where he'd get girlfriends or assistants),
4) he passes them of like his "assistants",
5) while they look like models,
6) and they make everybody uncomfortable to the point of telling them to signal whether they're there against their will
then critical thinking says he's more probably than not indeed sex trafficking, and there's something really shady in his relationship with the two girls...
Not, "they're surely just his assistants, nothing to see here, why would anybody consider anything else going on without some written testimony, a full confession and perhaps lab evidence?"
Each and every one of those people underneath Ito who suspected something might be up had the opportunity to do something about it, including going to the board, and given their suspicions they should have. And yet, nobody did.
There's not much difference between the two camps, especially if the "models" are just teenage girls from some Eastern European village or pre-adult girls (as low as 14) from broken poor families as he lured in the US, forced into it for the money or lured with promises of exposure, and often given drugs, beaten and passed around to "friends", and not professional models with actual (even if small) careers that saw an opportunity to make more money...
You might not know all this from mere looking, but you can see a lot of dynamics in direct play, especially if you know more stories about the same person...
(Also, I'd paraphrase the "summary" you did, more like "These things might not be obvious to some people without such exposure, but they do happen all the time in certain circles/countries/etc, and many people can tell when such shit goes on". Oh, and it doesn't have to be "ultra wealthy" at the Epstein-level, you can meet lower rent versions of such types at all scales, down to your friendly local scam rich from e.g. real estate, or construction, or political affiliations, or some state-given monopoly, etc).
He once jocked for a 17 year old that "she is getting too old for me".
The girls were scouted and selected by a group of trusted aides "from troubled backgrounds, either in the foster care system, from broken families, or below the poverty line"...
Not sure how much 'agency' we should give them.
These are not really women going with some boyfriend or merely a young girl with a much older guy. E.g. I'm OK with Louis CK asking to masturbate, and then doing it when the women said yes (I don't consider their "yes" to be any kind of manipulation, rich or not, powerful or not, they could always say no).
I'm trying to assume good faith, but it's not easy.
I only know about these things from Reddit posters and not much else. There is probably a whole host of information you and I do not know about him; it's important to be aware of your blind spots but also the blind spots of others.
It didn't occur to me that he would be walking around freely doing deals if he had already been convicted.
I didn't have the information that he was let off the hook and there was also no indication I should google for something like that. What search term should I have used?
> New documents show that the M.I.T. Media Lab was aware of Epstein’s status as a convicted sex offender, and that Epstein directed contributions to the lab far exceeding the amounts M.I.T. has publicly admitted.
What did you think "Epstein’s status as a convicted sex offender" meant? Are you earnestly confused, or are you trying to get a rise out of me?
That is the original article this while comment thread is attached to. It doesn't mention existing convictions in the first half. I didn't read the article the comment I replied to linked to.
I am not a robot. I can not simply recursively read the whole internet.
I was curious about the supposedly "damning paragraph", not about the whole article. The paragraph was quoted in the comment, so why should I read that article?
What exactly are you implying, anyway? What game do you assume I am playing?
You already responded to a comment about that article, so you owe it to others, if not yourself, to actually read it.
I would be interested in what made the Media Lab guy do it.
I suppose many people are confronted with an opportunity for "unethical gains" some time in their lives. Maybe the Media Lab guy simply weighted things in his mind and thought it was worth it, to keep the research going, finance his researchers, or whatever.
I would be interested if it would be wrong in all cases. Like maybe (hopefully) Bill Gates is clean, and via shady Epstein MIT could get clean Gates money. OK or not OK?
Not okay. Why? To answer, we have to admit that "clean" is a word which carries an unhelpful metaphor here: bacterial contamination.
The problem isn't that the money is in some way contaminated. The problem is that the flow of money establishes a relationship with two effects:
1) Someone who owes or regularly gives you money can influence your decisions.
2) Having someone associate with you gives them social status, especially as a donor to a beneficial institution.
The metaphor for which people should reach for should be drawn from something like the song Molasses to Rum from the musical 1776: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeuaTpH6Ck0
So getting money from Gates via Epstein would still be bad because Epstein has the power to stop that flow of money. Gettin money from Epstein via a federal court order would not be bad because Epstein doesn't have the power to stop that.
> I would be interested in what made the Media Lab guy do it.
I too would be interested in what made led him to do so. Because in order to receive donations, an organization like the media lab generally needs to be able to lean on its brand and its ability to invite companies to sponsor them. So we'll likely see that taking that money was long-term harmful financially to the Media Lab.
I was replying to the comment about the "damning paragraph", so I assumed the damning parts would be in the paragraph, not in the back story. Therefore, I didn't see the need to Google.
Because Bush-appointed US Attorney Alex Acosta (until recently Trump’s Secretary of Labor) made an illegal plea agreement to let Epstein off the hook and cover up the details of his criminality. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article226577...
Some extremely rich and powerful men were among Epstein’s child-rapist co-conspirators, so there are strong pressures on law enforcement officials to sweep the whole thing under the rug.
The simple answer to this question is: Yes. He did.
And it was precisely the people who didn't take it at face value that allowed him to get away with it for so long.
I think classically they are made to be illegal (no passport, have perhaps committed crime of prostitution, so they think they can not go to the police). Is that also what Epstein did?
Why not? Your initial comment in this discussion was an hour and a half before this one, and was in response to somebody linking to an article containing many of the relevant details.
I never said any such thing. I said the opposite thing: that it is possible a young assistant to an old guy is not a victim. That's an important distinction.
I think establishing a rule in society that young women can't work for old men would be wrong.
Coercion is the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats.
"guilt trip about how poor their family is" does not qualify as "force or threats".
Watering down term "coercion" makes real coercion less noticeable.
You are reading stuffs. People have seen this. If they were uneasy at this sight, they must have felt/observed something more than that, so much so that they thought that these girls might not have been there by choice.
People do get suspicious of fishy people and if you ask them why they are suspicious of some people, they would say, "he was behaving a bit different, something was off about him". And people like you will dismiss it.
Even in real life, I see people walking around with girls. Most of the times I feel or suspect nothing but sometimes I do feel something is off or fishy about it but yet I can't describe it fully.
Now you know a lot more about Epstein, what do you think why he brought "2 models (possibly quite young, given the reputation of Epstein) who are possibly from eastern europe" in MIT lab?
Now we know a lot more about Epstein, people must have felt something much more about those 2 girls which you can't imagine.
Personally, I feel like you are arguing for the sake of arguing. I was shocked at your line of thinking.
As far as secrecy, Epstein apparently wasn't very secret at all. Many reports from Virgin Islands where he had a home.
The world isn't TV, you might be surprised what people can get away with in plain sight.
When you're supplying these girls to British royalty, politicians at every level, certainly law enforcement of various flavors, and plenty of generic rich people (VC/finance, old money, Donald Trump, etc.), yeah, you might kinda get the idea that you're operating with impunity. Because you are, especially when you have blackmail material on all of them.
Trafficking of young women from the former Soviet Union is a complicated issue. During the collapse, and well into the 90s and mid 00s, many people were desperate. Literally starving, with ~no public services. And many criminals took advantage of that, recruiting young women for work as models, nannies and prostitutes. Plus of course all of the websites for Russian etc brides.
And that's still happening, because many areas are still very poor and chaotic. And Epstein clearly took advantage of that. Along with many other Americans, mostly in less abusive ways.
Generally, people who recruited destitute young women in legitimate ways would have no reason to hide that. Wives, nannies, servants, models, etc. So I guess that Epstein was just trying to maintain a pretense of legitimacy.
Edit: Here's a personal example. Indirectly through family, I knew a young woman who made it to the US in the late 80s. She'd been trained as a restoration artist, and the demand for that collapsed along with the Soviet Union. But once here, she worked for some years as an exotic dancer.
He wasn't a pedophile, at least from what I've read. Pedophilia specifically refers to an attraction to prepubescent children - Epstein was interested in adolescent girls, which would make him a hebephile. If Epstein was going around with an entourage of 10 year old girls it would've been extremely obvious, and he would've been arrested in about 5 minutes. OTOH it can be legitimately hard to tell the difference between a 14 year old and an 18 year old. People may have heard rumors or had their own suspicions, but they probably weren't sure and that uncertainty made it easy to take the safe route and stay silent...
I haven't followed his case well enough to know the age range for his young friends. But yes, I don't recall that he was grooming ten year olds. But probably 13 year olds, I think.
And yes, it's hard to tell about preteen people. Looking back at old pictures of close friends and myself, the most obvious changes were later, at maybe about 19-20. Mainly a loss of gangliness, I think. Puberty is not uncommon now before ten, so secondary sexual characteristics alone are unreliable indicators.
Way back in the hippie days, when I was about 18-20, I had a few 13-16 year old girlfriends. And I don't recall that they were all that obviously distinguishable by age. But of course, in old pictures, we all look like children.
Or just felt untouchable.
Why are you so incredulous that people would assume the worst when the guy had a reputation and the girls looked way too young to be traveling the world with the sleazeball?
After everything Epstein has did and got away with, I don't think it's a stretch that he would have been brash about it. Look at how brash Trump is about some of his personal sexual exploits.
I'm not sure the point is these women were trafficked for sure, but Ito was obviously unwilling to overlook a pretty questionable situation for his personal financial gain.
Regardless, he isn't being thrown in jail, he's just losing his position of power because he obviously isn't capable of avoiding conflict of interest.
Should young women only be allowed to work for poor people, if they are attractive? Or maybe only for other young people? I don't think that would be a good rule.
I don't think it would be enough for an accusation. Of course with the background that Epstein was already known as a sex trafficker, it is a very different matter.
The thing is to make everyone who you meet a bit complicit. Two young women at the meeting is not quite enough to make anyone at the meeting intervene, but it is enough that there is then a lever - "you were at the october meet, you met Siri and Alexa... you were there weren't you? You are smart, you knew what was going on then and you didn't do a thing. How will that play if that gets out?"
It's not much of a lever, but my suspicion is that there is a slow enmeshment and escalation; a dance of probing and pulling - more intense for the more useful or more dangerous contacts. The aim is to have protection, cover and support. People who say things like "one of your assistant was sobbing in the loo, so I called mental health services" suddenly find that colleagues are talking about how socially inept they are, and how important that they are kept out of certain meetings. People who join in and show approval are regarded as "good" and "fun". Bit by bit it becomes normal. The transgressions shown to "outsiders" are safe - or at least there are explanations and the outsiders are carefully selected to be vulnerable pressure from people in the circle, but each time this happens that tar pit of complicity grows and deepens. Eventually powerful people are looking at personal ruin if the offenders are exposed.
What if a person likes to work with beautiful young women? That's generally part of why people are being called beautiful - because people feel elated in their company.
Let's not pretend that looks don't matter in this world. If you have two equally qualified candidates for a job, perhaps you take the prettier one.
Maybe there is also an effect on meetings. Haven't there been studies on how men behave differently in the presence of attractive women? Maybe it is strategy to bring attractive women to business meetings, to change the dynamics.
Just saying there could be any number of reasons.
Personally I feel it is OK to act according to one's preferences (within bounds of no coercion and so on). If you prefer to be surrounded by attractive women, you should be allowed to act accordingly. I know not everyone agrees. (and please, I am not defending Epstein, I don't think sexual exploitation is OK - I am talking here about the general setting of hiring young assistants).
What is the right behavior then?
Should have Joi Ito recognize that "two beautiful young women" bait and cancelled all potential business with Epstein?
To contact mental health/wellbeing officers in your institution, and to be on record as having done it. There will be short term costs, but in the long term the costs of not doing so could be catastrophic.
>Should have Joi Ito recognize that "two beautiful young women" bait and cancelled all potential business with Epstein?
I don't know because I wasn't there and I don't know the circumstances around the meeting. In the hypothetical universe I think that the best case is that people's radars click into action and the folks left in the room say "that was super weird, I don't like this, what the hell are we doing talking to these people, let's stop". In the real world when you're doing something you believe in, you need money for that, and you are under pressure, I can imagine that not happening.
A big problem is that it shouldn't be a single person or a narrow group making these decisions. There should be wide group who met with Epstein and knew what was going on, and in the best case I think that it would be good to get everyone in a room and say "what did we think"? Perhaps also some specific follow up meetings with quieter or more insightful members of the group "what did you think?". One question "ok, does anyone have a red flag here?" would (I think) give me a lot of comfort even if it later turned out that I had made a deal with Stalin - at least I asked, at least I wasn't just a fool.
Process and culture - yet again.
That may terminate the career of donations receiving officer.
In addition to losing that particular donor, other donors may start worrying if they will end up being investigated after attempting to donate.
> it shouldn't be a single person or a narrow group making these decisions
Big bureaucracy is expensive and may consume a significant part of donation money.
> a deal with Stalin
In spite of Stalin being a villain, WW2 deal that UK and the US made with Stalin against Nazy Germany -- was a positive one.
Plenty of American businesses made money off of the Nazi regime. IBM. The Bush family, and many others. It wasn't until the horrific crimes committed during the war that everyone here quickly distanced themselves from Germany and pretended that they never liked them and were never anti-semitic.
As far as Epstein goes, I don't think we're even asking the right questions. The underage girls, despite being underage, all knew what was going to happen when they went to that island or to meet up with Epstein or his compatriots. What is more important is, how did the blackmail operation run and who received the photos and videos?
EE is known for sex trafficking young beautiful women and mainly in Europe. That an American has his hands on them is even stranger.
Why are young women who look like "models" not credible at MIT Media Lab?
It's not good when an attractive young person visiting MIT is viewed with suspicion because of some prejudice against attractive individuals and youth.
Oh I'm sure that happened! /s
It is worth noting that this person not only resigned in part because of the ties to Epstein (according to her) but also knew about said ties before she took the job.
Why is it hard to simply tell everything as it happened without trying to embellish one's picture in vain?