In January, MIT released a report by the law firm Goodwin Procter on MIT’s ties with Jeffrey Epstein. It identified senior figures who facilitated donations from the disgraced financier and convicted sex offender—including three vice presidents, mechanical engineering professor Seth Lloyd, and former Media Lab director Joi Ito—but concluded that President L. Rafael Reif played no role in approving MIT’s acceptance of the donations.
MIT placed Lloyd on paid leave after the report concluded that he “purposefully failed” to tell administrators about two $50,000 donations from Epstein in 2012. The report says Epstein used the gifts to test MIT’s willingness to accept donations after his 2008 conviction for securing an underage girl for prostitution. Lloyd also failed to disclose a $60,000 personal gift from Epstein before the conviction. Ito resigned last year after apologizing for taking $525,000 from Epstein for the Media Lab and $1.2 million for his private ventures.
The findings show that Epstein, who died last August while in jail on charges of sex trafficking minors, donated about $850,000 to MIT between 2002 and 2017. General counsel Gregory Morgan, VP for resource development Jeffrey Newton, and executive VP and treasurer Israel Ruiz all knew of Epstein’s conviction and approved gifts starting in 2013. Morgan and Newton have since retired. In December, MIT announced that Ruiz will step down this spring.
MIT is now developing guidelines on accepting money from controversial donors—and protecting the MIT community from visitors like Epstein who could pose a threat. Reports from committees reviewing gift processes and external engagements are expected this spring, and plans to donate $850,000 to sexual abuse victims are under way.
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