Harvard accepted over $8 million in donations from Jeffrey Epstein. The university plans to redirect unused funds toward supporting victims of human trafficking and sexual assault.

Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty ImagesJeffrey Epstein with Alan Dershowitz, then a Harvard professor.
  • Harvard University says that in an ongoing review the university found it had accepted over $US8 million in donations from the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
  • To date, the review is said to have found donations by Epstein from 1998 to 2007, predating his conviction as a sex offender in Florida in 2008.
  • The university says it plans to redirect $US186,000 in unspent funds toward organisations that help victims of sexual assault and human trafficking, a response to the crimes Epstein was accused of before his suicide in August.
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Harvard University accepted over $US8 million in donations from the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein from 1998 to 2007, according to a message published Thursday from the university’s president.

The president, Lawrence Bacow, said the university planned to redirect $US186,000 in unused funds to organisations that support victims of human trafficking and sexual assault.

Bacow said an ongoing review of Epstein’s donations began two weeks ago.

“Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes were repulsive and reprehensible,” Bacow wrote. “I profoundly regret Harvard’s past association with him. Conduct such as his has no place in our society.”

The review found donations by Epstein from 1998 to 2007, predating his conviction as a sex offender in Florida in 2008. “To date, we have uncovered no gifts received from Epstein or his foundation following his guilty plea,” Bacow wrote.

“The largest of these was a $US6.5 million gift in 2003 to support the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics,” he wrote. “The University received other gifts, which totaled approximately $US2.4 million, based on current information.”


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Bacow said in the letter that most of the funds had already been used as they weren’t endowed funds, but he added that there was “one current use fund and one small endowment designated to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences with a total unspent balance of $US186,000.”

The university plans to redirect the unspent funds toward organisations that help victims of sexual assault and human trafficking, he said.

Epstein died from suicide in a federal jail cell while awaiting trial on one count of sex trafficking and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, related to an investigation into allegations that he abused dozens of girls, some as young as 14. Epstein pleaded not guilty to the charges. Facing similar allegations in 2008, he pleaded guilty to two state counts of soliciting prostitution and spent 13 months in a Florida county jail where he was granted work release for six days a week.

“This is an unusual step for the University, but we have decided it is the proper course of action under the circumstances of Epstein’s egregiously repugnant crimes,” Bacow wrote.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology faced scrutiny recently for accepting donations from the disgraced financier. The MIT Media Lab was in contact with Epstein following his 2008 guilty plea and tried to conceal its connections, according to a report from The New Yorker. Joi Ito, who served as the director of the MIT Media Lab, resigned last week after the report.

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