Jeffrey Epstein had an office at Harvard University and visited that department dozens of times after he was released from prison, according to a review of the school’s ties to the financier and convicted sex offender.
Epstein had a key card and passcode to the building housing Harvard’s Programme for Evolutionary Dynamics, where an office was set aside for his use, according to the review released Friday. Epstein used the space to meet with professors from Harvard and other institutions and visited the building more than 40 times between 2010 and 2018, typically accompanied by young women serving as his assistants. He furnished it with a rug and photographs, and it was known as “Jeffrey’s office”, according to the report.
The programme’s website included material promoting Epstein as a science philanthropist in 2014, six years after his 2008 guilty plea for soliciting prostitution of a minor. It was only removed after a group representing sexual assault victims complained.
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Epstein’s close association with influential scholars burnished his reputation, giving him a veneer of credibility even after his guilty plea. That plea generated controversy because it initially allowed Epstein to avoid federal charges that he molested girls.
Last July, Epstein was arrested on new federal charges of sexually abusing dozens of girls in the early 2000s, prompting renewed scrutiny of his ties with elite universities, including Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and some of their superstar scholars.
Epstein died in jail in August, after hanging himself, according to medical examiners. But even after his death, the new case spurred a national debate about the pressures researchers and administrators face to raise money, and the willingness of some schools to accept money from questionable benefactors.
In September, Harvard president Lawrence Bacow expressed regret about the university’s association with Epstein. An initial review found nearly $9m (£7.1m) in gifts from Epstein, all before his 2008 conviction, and Bacow announced plans for a more extensive inquiry.
The review, led by Harvard University vice president and general counsel Diane E Lopez, encompassed hundreds of thousands of documents and interviews with dozens of officials.
Harvard’s former president, Drew Faust, who took office in 2007, determined that the university would not accept gifts from Epstein, and there is no evidence that it did after his 2008 conviction, according to the report. The gifts totalled nearly $9.2m (£7.3m).
The largest gift from Epstein was a $6.5m (£5.1m) donation in 2003 that established Harvard’s Programme for Evolutionary Dynamics led by Martin Nowak, a professor of biology and mathematics. Professor Nowak was placed on paid administrative leave while the Faculty of Arts and Sciences determines its response to the findings, Harvard dean Claudine Gay announced on Friday afternoon.
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