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Controversial Defense of MIT Lab's Epstein Ties

September 6, 2019
 
 

Facing pressure to resign as director of the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for taking money from late sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein, Joi Ito has the lab's founder on his side. In controversial comments during a lab meeting this week, Nicholas Negroponte said that he'd encouraged Ito to accept funding for lab, saying, "If you wind back the clock," he "would still say, 'Take it.'," according to MIT Technology Review. Negroponte, whose comments were reportedly met with objections of "Shut up" and tears, said after the meeting that he meant he would still advise taking the money knowing only what he knew then. Still, Ito has led the lab since 2011, several years after Epstein was first convicted of soliciting sex with a minor. He was facing additional charges of sex trafficking upon his death.

Ito has apologized for his dealings with Epstein. He did so again at the meeting, for the first time disclosing that he accepted $525,000 from Epstein and that it was spent across the lab (Ito took additional funds for his own personal ventures). Beyond Negroponte, others affiliated with lab have expressed support for Ito. But some prominent faculty members have resigned over recent revelations of his Epstein ties.

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