One of America's most prestigious schools, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, accepted over $800,000 in donations from Jeffrey Epstein's foundations, and the founder of MIT Media Lab said in a staff meeting he would do it again if given the chance.
Epstein was arrested July 6 on suspicion of sex trafficking minors. He was being held without bail awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking. On August 10 Epstein died by suicide while being held at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center.
"Over the course of 20 years, MIT received approximately $800,000 via foundations controlled by Jeffrey Epstein," MIT president L. Rafael Reif said in a letter sent to faculty in late August. A substantial portion of the funding came through MIT Media Lab and its director Joichi Ito, who admitted to accepting over $500,000 for MIT's Media Lab from Epstein. Ito also allowed Epstein to invest in his tech-focused investment funds outside of MIT.
On Wednesday, MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte defended that decision during a Media Lab all-hands meeting. "If you wind back the clock, I would still say, 'Take it,'" he said, according to reporting by the MIT Technology Review.
According to the report, the meeting went off the rails at this point.
"A woman in the front row began crying," it says. "Kate Darling, a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab, shouted, 'Nicholas, shut up!' Negroponte responded that he would not shut up and that he had founded the Lab, to which Darling said, 'We've been cleaning up your messes for the past eight years.'"
The meeting reportedly ended soon after.
Negroponte did not respond to a request for comment as of publishing, but he told the Boston Globe, "Yes, we are embarrassed and regret taking his money."