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[flagged] Harvard admits to receiving $9M from Jeffrey Epstein (thehill.com)
70 points by msghacq 33 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 45 comments

The Hill does a decent job of reporting this without sensationalizing it. Of note: They accepted money from him, but it was all prior to his 2008 conviction in Florida. I don't fault Harvard for this, and I think this is just one of those tangential stories that pop up whenever the media sensationalizes something.

Also note that this is Harvard, which is separate from the MIT Medial Lab story (which I kind of think is being blown out of proportion). Epstein donated to both schools, and I'll bet that he donated to others which we will find out about later. But what are these schools supposed to do? Give the money back? If you can take dirty money and turn it into valuable research, isn't that a good thing?

The primary difference is that the MIT institution took money from him despite being internally barred from doing so. As you mention, at least Harvard did this before the original trial.

As far as your last comment, there's been a lot of historic and present discussion around exactly that blend of science/ethics (WW2, milgram, etc.)

Just wanted you to know that what you said is known to be false, "the MIT institution took money from him despite being internally barred from doing so"

See http://news.mit.edu/2019/letter-preliminary-facts-0912

"when members of [the MIT president's] senior team learned that the Media Lab had received the first of the Epstein gifts, they reached out to speak with Joi Ito. He asked for permission to retain this initial gift, and members of my senior team allowed it."

Devil's advocate: why should they be selective about who they receive donations from?

Obviously they shouldn't name a building or something after the guy, but, to give an extreme example, would it be a problem to take money with no strings attached from a serial killer or war criminal?

Edit: Okay, this is a pretty good answer: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20963945. I mean maybe it could be an acceptable solution for them to make a public statement like "we hate this guy but we're taking his money anyway", but having no association whatsoever is probably safer.

I mention in another comment:

Epstein cited his relationships with these schools (built through fundraising) repeatedly both to intimidate his victims into silence and convince authorities to let him go. This wasn't a case of him sending a check and walking away, he was extracting a lot of value for his predatory operation from these institutions. They should face the music for their role in what happened.

Ha, you beat me right before my edit.

but it was all prior to his 2008 conviction in Florida

Donald Trump of all people went on the record in 2002, saying that Epstein prefers women "on the younger side". His strange proclivities were known even then. So Harvard was complicit in accepting Epstein money until they really really couldn't accept it any longer. That's plausible deniability.

There actually was a lot of Epstein news that dropped last night (presumably with the idea that the Democrat debates would drown it out):

1. This Harvard statement. "Money's gone, too bad".

2. MIT President Rafael Reif admitted to signing an Epstein thank you note and attending a meeting discussing Epstein's contributions. He also threw his whole staff under the bus.

3. Reid Hoffman admitted to arranging meetings with Epstein on Joi Ito's request. He shockingly threw Ito and unshockingly MIT under the bus.

[2] https://news.mit.edu/2019/letter-regarding-jeffrey-epstein-a...

[3] https://www.axios.com/reid-hoffman-jeffrey-epstein-mit-donat...


This submission is now [flagged]. There's no flame war going on in here to sink it so not sure why it would be removed.

You seem up to date, has anyone figured out where Epstien got all the money from yet?

Here's a good article: http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/07/hedge-funders-have-so...

>Oddly, Epstein also claimed to do all the investing by himself while his 150 employees all worked in the back office — which Kass says reminds him of Madoff’s cover story. Though it now appears that Epstein had many fewer employees than he claimed

What was almost certainly happening was that his hedge fund was a front for blackmailing people (after they had sex with his underage sex slaves).

It's also interesting to note that his client list has still somehow not leaked. Everyone on there is probably a (wealthy/powerful) pedo.

No, it's still a mystery. Right before he died, he moved it all into a trust and named Bill Gate's advisor as his executor:


Gates himself has a lot to answer for. The MIT emails show Epstein funneling $2M from Gates to Media Lab. He also flew on Epstein's jet to Florida and hasn't answered why.

One day I will not be surprised at how deep the rot goes, but today is not that day.

With the amount of powerful people involved in this story, I don't think we're ever going to find out any details what really happened about the actual trafficking crimes themselves, at best we'll probably just be fed a healthy diet of salacious stories like this until some other event is big enough to distract everyone.

But I sense this whole thing is yielding fruit in other ways. Reddit threads on the front page (and allowed to stay on the front page; this thread on HN has now been flagged I see) in normal subreddits are absolutely full of overwhelming conspiratorial comments, the nature of which the hivemind would previously have downvoted into oblivion, because as we all know conspiracies like this are "always" crazy lies, due to the fact that is it "literally impossible" for that many people to keep their mouths shut.

I've seen posts claiming that he was an intelligence asset for either the CIA or Mossad. I didn't see any proof, so take it with a grain of salt.

This is the best series of articles I've seen exploring it:


CIA, Mossad and the mafia are all covered. Whitney Webb did a really amazing job researching all of this.

if it can be asserted without evidence, it can be dismissed without discussion.

That's preposterous. A lot of times you need an assertion in order to gather evidence. To make an assertion and then immediately dismiss it because there is no evidence would be a criminals dream come true.

> A lot of times you need an assertion in order to gather evidence

it's not an assertion then, it's a hypothesis. in any case, i think you may have misunderstood what i was tring to say: imagine if i'd said: "i've seen evidence that hillary clinton reports to the chinese/korean government. no proof, but still". it says nothing, doesn't mention the evidence i've seen, and yet seems to imply something "wrong".

i'm calling it out, because it it encourages belief without evidence. it's insidious.

I'm not calling for or encouraging belief. I'm skeptical of the claims myself.

I want to see if the allegations are true and I support further investigation to bring all the details to light, because they are quite alarming. I don't support any narrative other than the truth.

I posted out of curiosity, because I wanted to see if others could contribute more to the discussion.

Meanwhile you have people that are flagging stories like this for an unknown reason, which is frustrating.

Whether that approach is wise under the circumstances is another question. Personally, the safety of children ranks fairly high on my priority list, so I believe all details of this case are worthy of consideration.

Forget the money. What’s up with the freaky temple on his island?

There is a huge difference with what Harvard did and what MIT's Media Lab did. According to the article, Harvard didn't take any money from Epstein after his conviction, while at the Media Lab they continued to take it even after MIT put Epstein on its donor blacklist, and tried to hide the source of the funds.

> Media Lab they continued to take it even after MIT put Epstein on its donor blacklist,

Turns out this was a misrepresentation:

* https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614299/mit-media-lab-jeff...

Apparently "disqualified" status was a flag in their CRM essentially just meant "don't bother trying to cold call this person", usually set after three failed attempts to fund-raise from them. It in no way signaled any kind of prohibition on fundraising, and only available to development staff in any case. The whole tangent was essentially spurious and signified nothing except that his donations weren't coming in through fundraising cold calls.

But the real shocker is:

* https://president.mit.edu/speeches-writing/preliminary-fact-...

Media Lab's acceptance of donations from Epstein was known and approved by senior staff in MIT administration, the president even sent a thank you letter. The Media Lab had been directed by the administration to keep Epstein's donation's anonymous to avoid him using MIT for publicity or to enhance his own reputation.

So this whole idea that Ito was demonstrating mens rea by concealing his actions from the administration appears to be completely false. I find it shocking that MIT took a week to clarify this point.

Kinda sad that HN has had three front page stories repeating this allegation that Ito hid the donations from MIT, but a submission of the link to MIT's statement that the administration knew and directed keeping them anonymous is totally buried. I could understand being burned out on the subject, but now we have this Harvard thing at the top...

Thank you very much for posting it, this is an important piece of information I was unaware of, but note your links are broken.

Good article that highlights how institutions review and vet donors. I'm impressed that Harvard refused $$ from Epstein after his 2007 conviction. The school shouldn't be punished for $$ it took before charges came to light.

Remember when MIT thought it was morally prudent to let the government throw the book at Aaron Swartz because it could alienate their commercial partners? They did that while actively courting a sex-trafficking pedophile.

Imagine valuing JSTOR's copyright more than human life and dignity.

As someone who works in the Advancement (fundraising) space for a university (not in the US), Harvards behaviour is IMHO quite ethical.

Whilst institutions will do due diligence on major donors they are not geared to be investigative units. So unknowingly accepting donations from a tainted donor is not something I would hold against them nor would I expect them to return the money or donate it elsewhere.

The key takeaway is that they refused donations from Epstein once his activities were known. Absolutely the right course of action.

Whatever Epstein did, it's good that his money be put to good use like helping education and research rather than being burned because he touched it.

Harvard has nothing to 'admit', they did nothing wrong, and there is no point in them getting rid of the money they have left.

Epstein cited his relationships with these schools (built through fundraising) repeatedly both to intimidate his victims into silence and convince authorities to let him go. This wasn't a case of him sending a check and walking away, he was extracting a lot of value for his predatory operation from these institutions. They should face the music for their role in what happened.

> They should face the music for their role in what happened

Harvard and MIT didn't play a role in Epstein's non-donation related activities. They have nothing to answer for.

Next you're going to tell me anyone that takes any Bill and Melinda Gates foundation money has to answer for Microsoft's monopolistic practices in the 90's.

This witch-hunt stuff needs to stop.

They actually did play a role in his non-donation activities. Multiple professors at both schools are credibly accused of participating in Epstein's child sex trafficking. MIT allowed Epstein to bring girls to the campus (Harvard hasn't released enough info to know if he did that there as well). MIT _sent Epstein a Disobedience Prize orb_. MIT leadership worked to actively conceal the donations.

There was a lot of very questionable things going on. They didn't just get a check and call it a day.

So what? That does not make Harvard have any responsibility in what Epstein did, they had no role at all in that.

It's like a new Inquisition these days.

I work at Harvard. This is the letter referenced:

The Office of President

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

All of us have been horrified by the revelations regarding Jeffrey Epstein, and I write today to update our community on steps we are taking in view of current information about his philanthropy to Harvard.

Let me start by emphasizing the obvious: Epstein’s reported criminal actions were utterly abhorrent. They flagrantly offend the values of our society and this institution, and we condemn them. We also recognize the profound pain that Epstein caused to his victims and their families, and we commend their courage in coming forward to bring his crimes to light.

Epstein’s connections as a donor to this University, and other institutions, raise important concerns. With that in mind, two weeks ago I asked for a review of his donations to Harvard. Our decentralization makes such a review more complicated than it would be at some other institutions. I want to emphasize that this review is ongoing. Our review to date indicates that between 1998 and 2007, Epstein made a number of gifts to support various faculty and institutional research activities across the University. The largest of these was a $6.5 million gift in 2003 to support the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. The University received other gifts, which totaled approximately $2.4 million, based on current information. Each of these gifts from Epstein and his affiliated foundations to Harvard University predates his guilty plea in June 2008. To date, we have uncovered no gifts received from Epstein or his foundation following his guilty plea. Moreover, we specifically rejected a gift from Epstein following his conviction in 2008. We have also recently learned that Stephen Kosslyn, a former faculty member and a beneficiary of Epstein’s philanthropy, designated Epstein as a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Psychology in 2005. We are seeking to learn more about the nature of that appointment from Dr. Kosslyn, who no longer works at the University.

The majority of Epstein’s gifts were designated for current use, not as endowed funds, and nearly all were spent years ago for their intended purposes in support of research and education. Our ongoing review of these gifts has identified one current use fund and one small endowment designated to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences with a total unspent balance of $186,000. After consultation with the Dean of the FAS, we have decided that the University will redirect the unspent resources to organizations that support victims of human trafficking and sexual assault. This is an unusual step for the University, but we have decided it is the proper course of action under the circumstances of Epstein’s egregiously repugnant crimes. The issue of the gifts given to institutions by donors at Jeffrey Epstein’s suggestion, is also one that has emerged in recent days, and we are looking into this as part of our ongoing review.

Epstein’s behavior, not just at Harvard, but elsewhere, raises significant questions about how institutions like ours review and vet donors. I will be convening a group here at Harvard to review how we prevent these situations in the future. I also hope to engage our peer institutions to consider how we can collectively improve our processes. We can all learn from each other.

Let me end where I began. Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes were repulsive and reprehensible. I profoundly regret Harvard’s past association with him. Conduct such as his has no place in our society. We act today in recognition of that fact. And we do so knowing that the scourge of sexual assault continues to demand our close attention and concerted action.

Harvard is not perfect, but you have my commitment as president that we will always strive to be better.


Lawrence S. Bacow

This guy has his hands everywhere, it's insane.

The Harvard connection was more widely known than the MIT one until recently.

The importance vis-a-vis MIT is the dates. If this article is accurate Harvard stopped taking the money once he was a convicted sex offender, MIT didn't.

--- Well, MIT put Epstein on their donor blacklist, but Joi Ito specifically circumvented that and tried to hide the source of Epstein's donations in 2013. ---

Edit: I stand corrected as nullc points out below (and why no strikethroughs HN?)

> MIT put Epstein on their donor blacklist, but Joi Ito specifically circumvented

Turns out that is essentially false, see my other reply to you in this thread.

I would have commended Harvard and MIT for not taking Epstein's money, with the reasoning that he was a scientific lightweight trying to buy academic clout. As of now, it just sounds like damage control. It takes zero courage to join the herd in saying that sex crimes are horrific.

The justice system means that -- after you committed a crime and done your time -- you are supposed to rehabilitate and rejoin society. I feel the horrific crimes cloud our judgment in this regard: Epstein paid the fine, did the time, and came out on the other end. Again, I am not saying it is wrong to forever brand someone as a persona-non-grata, but it is the easy and predictable way out, distancing yourself to save face. Epstein was sick, paid his debt to society, but we deem his crimes unforgivable, and in shutting down society to rehabilitated criminals, we make sure they also do not get a chance to turn their life around for good.

He notoriously did not do his time for his crime. He got such a blatantly corrupt sweetheart deal that Acosta had to resign due to it. The lawyer that got him that deal? Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz. Also accused of sexually abusing young girls with Epstein.

Then take it up with the justice system (or intelligence), don't blame Epstein for taking the sweetheart deal, or use that deal to justify further punishment. Similarly, when cops avoid jail time for shooting incidents, society should stop referring to them as murderers when they are acquitted (Zimmerman, Yanez, ...). Accept the decisions of the court, or work to improve them. You have no right to play your own judge. Especially in the Epstein case it is common to take allegations as facts, and this is ugly, since a judge has not even rendered a decision (yet, here we are using allegations as justification for societal excommunication).

What is ugly is child sex trafficking. The justice system has failed here, hence the public's anger.

Why on earth did this get flagged?

I suspect flagging by alumnus or a desire by HN to avoid salacious topics.

Epstein probably realized, that it is not difficult to buy influence at institutions and individuals, that are already corrupt in their core.

Whether those institutions are politicians, educational facilities or other organizations...

The litmus test keeps it real... Doesn't it?

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