Harvard to donate remainder of Jeffrey Epstein gift to victim groups

Harvard University announced on Friday that it will donate the remaining $210,000 of a $9.1m gift from the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein to groups that support victims of sex trafficking and assault.

Lawrence Bacow, Harvard’s president, confirmed the decision in a statement, saying a full review of Epstein’s donations determined that money he gave between 1998 and 2008 was spent “to support a variety of research and faculty activities”.

While the review found that no gifts were received from Epstein following his conviction in 2008 for Florida state sex crimes, his ties to the university were extensive.

Epstein had his own office in one department, visiting more than 40 times between 2010 and 2018. In 2008, he was given an 18-month state sentence for procuring prostitution.

“The report issued today reveals institutional and individual shortcomings that must be addressed,” Bacow wrote. “Not only for the sake of the university but also in recognition of the courageous individuals who sought to bring Epstein to justice.”

Epstein, a former friend of Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, as well as Prince Andrew, was arrested last July on federal charges of child sex trafficking. He died by suicide while in custody awaiting trial in New York.

Harvard also acknowledged that “some members of the … community continued their relationships with Epstein”, resulting in an unsuccessful effort to resume donations in 2013.

“[The university president] was asked to consider a new gift from Epstein,” wrote Diane Lopez, Harvard’s general counsel, who oversaw the review.

“Though she had not heard of him at the time, after she was briefed on the nature of the allegations against him, she determined that Harvard should no longer accept gifts from him.”

Harvard launched its investigation in the months after Epstein’s death. In September, Bacow said he “profoundly regret Harvard’s past association with him”.

“Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes were repulsive and reprehensible,” he said then. “Conduct such as his has no place in our society.”

On Friday, Harvard said the “$200,937 of gifts received from Epstein [that] remained unspent” would be divided equally between My Life My Choice, in Boston, and Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (Gems), in New York.

The not-for-profit groups focus on supporting victims of human trafficking and sexual assault.

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