Harvard University president Larry Bacow has sent a memo to Harvard “alumni and friends.” The memo provides what Bacow says is an “update” on “the full review of Jeffrey Epstein’s connections to the University.”
Bacow’s memo discusses only Epstein’s financial contributions to Harvard. He states:
The report [by Harvard’s general counsel] confirms that the University received a total of $9.1 million in gifts from Epstein between 1998 and 2008 to support a variety of research and faculty activities, and that no gifts were received from Epstein following his conviction in 2008.
However, Epstein’s “connections to the University” weren’t limited to financial contributions. He maintained connections with certain Harvard professors whom he visited on campus after his conviction for two related sex crimes — procuring an underage girl for prostitution and soliciting a prostitute.
This topic is discussed briefly in a memo by Harvard’s general counsel that Bacow attached to his memo. The general counsel states:
Epstein maintained a relationship with the director of the PED [Program for Evolutionary Dynamics], Professor Martin Nowak, over the next 15 years, including after Epstein’s release from prison. While we have not been able to determine the precise number of campus visits, we understand that Epstein visited the offices of PED in Harvard Square more than 40 times between 2010 and 2018.
We did not find evidence that Epstein engaged with undergraduate students during these visits (or during his time as a Visiting Fellow). Instead, Epstein used these visits principally as opportunities to speak with prominent faculty from the Cambridge area, many of them Harvard faculty.
While inviting Epstein to campus did not violate any Harvard policies, aspects of his relationship to the PED, such as his access to the program’s offices, treatment on the PED’s website and interactions concerning one grant application, do implicate Harvard policies and our findings and recommendations address these issues.
But the general counsel’s memo appears to understate, if not conceal, findings in her underlying report. According to the general counsel’s report, Epstein had his own office at Harvard, along with a key card and passcode with which to enter the building housing the PED.
Epstein furnished his office with a rug and photographs. The space was known as “Jeffrey’s office,” according to the report. (See page 20)
As the general counsel’s memo says, Epstein visited campus more than 40 times after his release from custody (such as that custody was). The memo does not include the report’s finding that when he visited Harvard, Epstein was accompanied by young women serving as his assistants.
Epstein’s association with Harvard mattered. As the Washington Post’s Susan Svrluga says:
Epstein’s close association with influential scholars burnished his reputation, giving him a veneer of credibility even after his guilty plea. That plea generated controversy because it initially allowed Epstein to avoid federal charges that he molested girls.
Bacow’s memo seems like a scrubbed version of the the general counsel’s memo. And the general counsel’s memo seems like a scrubbed version of her report.