Jeffrey Epstein Donations to M.I.T. Will Be Focus of University Inquiry

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A week after Joichi Ito, the director of the M.I.T. Media Lab, apologized for his ties to the disgraced New York financier Jeffrey Epstein, the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced that the university would investigate its dealings with Mr. Epstein.

In an email sent Thursday evening to the M.I.T. community that was shared with The New York Times, the president, L. Rafael Reif, said the university had received roughly $800,000 in donations from Epstein funds over a 20-year period. The money went to the Media Lab, an elite research center led by Mr. Ito, who also is on the board of The New York Times Company, as well as to a member of the M.I.T. faculty, the physicist Seth Lloyd.

Mr. Epstein was being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan before he committed suicide on Aug. 10. He had long faced accusations of sexually abusing girls. In 2008, he pleaded guilty in Florida to state charges of solicitation of prostitution from a minor.

Acknowledging a “mistake in judgment,” Mr. Reif said, “with hindsight, we recognize with shame and distress that we allowed M.I.T. to contribute to the elevation of his reputation, which in turn served to distract from his horrifying acts.”

The fact-finding mission announced by Mr. Reif will be supervised by the school’s provost, Martin A. Schmidt, an electrical engineer who has been on M.I.T.’s faculty for over three decades. A spokesman for M.I.T. declined to comment further.

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