Updated at 4:45pm.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology administrators were aware of Jeffrey Epstein's 2008 conviction for soliciting a minor for prostitution, yet the university continued to accept donations from him. That’s according to a report MIT released late Friday afternoon detailing the university’s ties to Epstein.
The review, conducted by an outside law firm, concludes that MIT President Rafael Reif was not aware of Epstein’s donations, which spanned between 2002 and 2017. However, three vice presidents knew about both the donations and Epstein’s conviction as early as 2013.
In September, Reif acknowledged he signed a letter thanking Epstein for a donation but called it a "standard acknowledgment letter” and said he didn't recall signing it.
The scandal has raised questions about controversial donors. But the report says that since MIT has no policy for handling such donors, the decision to take Epstein's money cannot be judged as a violation. The university is currently working on creating such a policy.
Epstein, who donated $850,000 to MIT over 15 years, died in a New York jail in August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Among the details in the 61-page report conducted by law firm Goodwin Procter, was the revelation that three MIT vice presidents, R. Gregory Morgan, Jeffrey Newton and Israel Ruiz, learned in 2013 that Epstein was making donations to MIT's Media Lab.
MIT reached out to Goodwin Procter in September to do an independent review of its relationship with Epstein. The law firm conducted interviews with 59 people and reviewed 610,000 emails and documents.
The report found the three vice presidents, in absence of a policy on donations from controversial sources, developed an "informal network" to continue to take donations from Epstein.
While the report says there was no formal policy violation, it makes clear that the decision to continue taking Epstein's money was “the result of collective and significant errors in judgment that resulted in serious damage to the MIT community.”
Morgan retired in 2018, and Newton left the university a few years ago. Ruiz is set to step down as MIT’s executive vice president and treasurer this year.
According to the report, Epstein visited campus nine times between 2013 and 2017, though MIT's senior leadership was not aware of it. The report found those visits and post-conviction gifts were orchestrated by either former Media Lab director Joi Ito or Seth Lloyd, a professor of mechanical engineering.
Ito resigned in September, and MIT has put Lloyd, who is tenured, on paid administrative leave pending possible disciplinary action.
MIT’s Executive Committee has released several recommendations on how the university moves forward.
Among these are setting up clear policies on how to deal with donations from controversial sources, helping to create an environment and culture where whistleblowers are protected and developing guidelines to keep the MIT community safe from visitors like Epstein.
In a statement also released today, Reif wrote he regrets decisions “that sustained MIT’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein occurred on my watch and created so much pain and turmoil for the people of MIT.”
“I feel a deep responsibility to repair what has been broken,” he wrote. “I also offer a heartfelt apology to the survivors of Jeffrey Epstein’s atrocious crimes, as well as to survivors of sexual assault and abuse in our own community.”