Harvard University's president acknowledged Thursday that the school accepted nearly $9 million in donations from convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein from 1998 to 2007.
The school will review all gifts from Epstein, the largest of which was $6.5 million donated in 2003 to aid the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, President Lawrence S. Bacow said in a letter to the Harvard community. Epstein provided the school with about $2.4 million in additional donations, Bacow said.
"Let me start by emphasizing the obvious: Epstein's reported criminal actions were utterly abhorrent," Bacow said in the letter, which first appeared in the Harvard Crimson. "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."
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While Bacow noted that most of the gifts were spent years ago and not meant for current use, he added that a balance of $186,000 would be dedicated to organizations assisting survivors of human trafficking and sexual assault.
"I profoundly regret Harvard's past association with him," Bacow said of Epstein. "Conduct such as his has no place in our society. We act today in recognition of that fact."
Harvard was not the only prestigious Cambridge school to accept donations from Epstein; earlier Thursday, Massachusetts Institute of Technology President L. Rafael Reif acknowledged signing a letter thanking Epstein for a 2012 donation to the school.
"Although I do not recall it, it does bear my signature," Reif said in a letter posted to MIT's website.
That acknowledgement came after Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, resigned last week following public outcry over his extensive fundraising relationship with him. Two top researchers left the lab in protest of Ito last month.
In Rhode Island, Brown University put fundraising director Peter Cohen on administrative leave Monday. Formerly the MIT Media Lab's director of development and strategy, Cohen allegedly helped cover up Ito's connections to Epstein.
Epstein, a billionaire financier who had counted President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton among his high-profile friends, was indicted this summer on federal sex trafficking charges involving underage victims in incidents dating between 2002 and 2005. His death weeks later by hanging in prison was ruled a suicide.
Epstein is alleged to have run an underage sex ring consisting of dozens of girls. In 2006, Palm Beach, Florida, police sought to have him charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor and lewd and lascivious molestation; two years later, he pleaded guilty to a charge involving a single victim in a highly controversial non-prosecution agreement, allowing him to leave a Florida jail almost daily during his 13-month sentence.
Bacow said Harvard "specifically rejected a gift from Epstein following his conviction in 2008."