Even as many try to distance themselves from previous relationships with the late disgraced finance mogul Jeffrey Epstein, one prominent Ivy League university has not budged on its refusal to return or donate his money.
During much of Epstein’s life, administrators from Harvard were more than happy to welcome him and his millions with open arms. Now, the university has a moral obligation to return or donate those funds.
The disgraced finance mogul donated millions to Harvard endeavors from the late 1990s throughout the 2000s, including a $6.5 million donation to Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, and a $2 million pledged donation for Harvard’s Jewish organization Hillel. Plus, Epstein contributed more than $100,000 to a Harvard performing arts organization, and gave a gift of more than $100,000 to a non-profit run by Elsa New, wife of former Harvard president and Clinton administration member Larry Summers.
Even after criminal proceedings against Epstein began in 2005, multiple Harvard officials continued to foster relationships with the convicted sex offender and his millions. According to the Boston Globe, a meeting occurred between Epstein and renowned Harvard biology professor and mathematician Martin Nowak, even after Epstein was required to register as a high-risk sex offender in New York a year prior.
University officials claim they had zero knowledge of Epstein’s alleged crimes and sex-trafficking. In that case, they ought to now consider themselves formally informed.
Harvard has no business holding on to Epstein’s donations any longer. Anything else would be extremely hypocritical, and here’s why: Earlier this year, the prestigious university repeatedly refused to take action against students for demonizing renowned Harvard Law professor Ronald Sullivan after he agreed to represent disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Sullivan ultimately lost his job as a faculty dean of Winthrop House at Harvard in part due to increasing public dissatisfaction over his representation of Weinstein.
Despite all this, Harvard has made it clear that Epstein’s money is safe with them, and that they have no plans to return Epstein’s donations or give them away to charity. Following Epstein’s indictment on new charges of sex trafficking last month, a university spokesperson told Newsweek that “the University has no plans to return the $6.5M to Epstein.” A plaque inside the Hillel center at Harvard that listed Epstein as a major benefactor of the university is no longer on display.
If Harvard officials truly believed they were standing up for victims of sexual assault by demonizing Sullivan, an employee who agreed to legally represent a man accused of sexual assault in a court of law, then returning money from a man who was subsequently convicted of sexual crimes is a no-brainer, based on their own standards.
John Patrick is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog.
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