Jeffrey Epstein gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to MIT's Media Lab, and its founder said he would accept the donations again if given the chance

Pier Marco Tacca/Getty ImagesMIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte.

One of America’s most prestigious schools, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, accepted over $US800,000 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 Centre.

“Over the course of 20 years, MIT received approximately $US800,000 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 $US500,000 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.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein looks on near his lawyer Martin Weinberg and Judge Richard Berman during a status hearing in his sex trafficking case, in this court sketch in New York, U.S., July 31, 2019.  REUTERS/Jane RosenbergReutersJeffrey Epstein looks on during a status hearing in his sex trafficking case, in this court sketch in New York.

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 told the Boston Globe, “Yes, we are embarrassed and regret taking his money.”

He went into further detail in an email to Business Insider on Friday morning: “Given what we know today, since Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest, even since the November 2018 Miami Herald story, nobody would or should have taken his money. Not even me. But wind the clock backwards, given what we knew then, I would have accepted his money now. I suppose my words can be checked by reviewing an audio or video tape, if there is one,” Negroponte said.

Check out the full story on MIT Technology Review right here.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.