Massachusetts Institute of Technology President L. Rafael Reif says in a letter to the community he thanked disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein in 2012 for a donation to a professor at the school.
"Although I do not recall it, it does bear my signature," Reif said in the letter posted to the school's website Thursday, a day before a planned protest over Epstein's donations to the university and its reknowned Media Lab.
Reif said his acknowledgment came on Aug. 16, 2012, about six weeks into his presidency.
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In the letter, Reif said he has received a preliminary update from Goodwin Procter, an outside law firm, which has been investigating the Epstein donations to the university. Some of the information is now under further review, according to Reif.
"I am aware that we could and should have asked more questions about Jeffrey Epstein and about his interactions with Joi. We did not see through the limited facts we had, and we did not take time to understand the gravity of Epstein’s offenses or the harm to his young victims. I take responsibility for those errors," Reif said in a letter.
Reif's letter to the MIT community comes a day before students, faculty and community members plan to rally to protest the millions of dollars that the university took from Epstein and to call for an end to "dark money" donations.
A week ago, Joi Ito, director of MIT's Media Lab, resigned from both the lab and from his position as a professor at the Cambridge school after an independent investigation on donations was ordered by Reif.
Ito's resignation came after a report in The New Yorker that the Media Lab had an extensive fundraising relationship with Epstein that it tried to conceal.
Those who plan to attend Friday's rally at MIT want other senior members who knew of Epstein's donations to resign.
"Accepting money linked to Jeffrey Epstein wasn't just disgusting and immoral. It violated MIT's own donor policies," reads a statement on the group's Facebook page.
The group hosting the event, MIT Students Against War, claims top school officials covered up Epstein's donations while professors and other top school officials visited him in prison.
"The Epstein scandal demonstrates a rot at the heart of the Media Lab and MIT as a whole. It gets at more profound issues regarding how MIT finances its activities and who it partners with to perform research. We demand an end to dark money," read a statement from the group's Facebook page.
Friday's rally is planned for 4 p.m. outside the Stratton Student Center.
Epstein killed himself in jail Aug. 10 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Federal prosecutors in New York had charged the 66-year-old with sex trafficking and conspiracy, alleging he sexually abused girls over several years in the early 2000s.