Director of MIT Media Lab resigns after outcry over ties to Epstein

The Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., Oct. 9, 2010. Two educators affiliated with the Media Lab said that they would end their relationships with the research institute over its ties to Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier who was facing federal sex-trafficking charges when he killed himself in August. Erik Jacobs/The New York Times

The director of MIT’s prestigious Media Lab stepped down on Saturday after an outcry over his financial ties with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

“After giving the matter a great deal of thought over the past several days and weeks, I think that it is best that I resign as director of the media lab and as a professor and employee of the Institute, effective immediately,” the director, Joichi Ito, wrote in an email to the university’s provost, Martin A. Schmidt.

Ito stepped down less than a day after an article in The New Yorker described the measures officials at the lab took to conceal the relationship with Epstein, who killed himself in jail last month while facing federal sex trafficking charges. Ito sent a copy of the resignation email to The New York Times after repeated requests for comment.

Internal lab emails, which a former lab employee shared with The Times, described donations that Epstein made and solicited over the years — including a $2 million gift from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Ito acknowledged this past week taking $525,000 of Epstein’s money for the lab, as well as $1.2 million for his personal investment funds.

In a separate email to the lab community that he shared with The Times, Ito again apologized, confirmed his resignation and added, “The Media Lab community is strong and while this chapter is truly difficult, I am confident the lab will persevere.”

Ito has been a board member of The New York Times Co. since 2012. The company did not immediately comment on Ito’s decision to leave MIT.

New York Times

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