Joichi Ito has resigned as head of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) after the New Yorker revealed that he and other staff at the facility which includes blockchain research concealed financial contributions from sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Although Epstein was on MIT’s “disqualified” list in its official donor database, the Media Lab continued to accept gifts from him, the New Yorker report said, citing “dozens of pages of emails and other documents” it had obtained.

Jeffrey Epstein was a US financier and fund manager, convicted of sexual offences in Florida in 2008 and was arrested in July 2019 on federal charges of sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York. He committed suicide in jail on August 10. On August 29, the case against him was closed after the judge dismissed all sex trafficking charges.

Documents and Emails

The documents obtained by the New Yorker show Epstein was responsible for donating – or securing through his wealthy contacts – at least $7.5 million for the Media Lab. Such were efforts at concealing his identity, Ito reportedly referred to Epstein as Voldemort or “he who must not be named”.

The Office of the President of MIT sent a letter to the university community on Saturday that demanded an “immediate, thorough and independent” investigation into the New Yorker’s report. The President, L Rafael Reif, added:

This afternoon, Joi Ito submitted his resignation as Director of the Media Lab and as a professor and employee of the Institute … The acceptance of the Epstein gifts involved a mistake of judgment. We are actively assessing how best to improve our policies, processes and procedures to fully reflect MIT’s values and prevent such mistakes in the future.