Another bombshell from The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow centering on a famous man accused of sexual misconduct has resulted in the resignation of an important figure at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
A day after publishing a piece detailing allegations that the MIT Media Lab “had a deeper fund-raising relationship with [Jeffrey] Epstein than it has previously acknowledged” and “attempted to conceal the extent of its contacts with him,” the director of the media lab resigned. Farrow reported the resignation in an update to his original piece.
“On Saturday, less than a day after the publication of this story, Joi Ito, the director of the M.I.T. Media Lab, resigned from his position,” Farrow revealed in the update Saturday.
“After giving the matter a great deal of thought over the past several days and weeks, I think that it is best that I resign as director of the media lab and as a professor and employee of the Institute, effective immediately,” Ito wrote in an internal e-mail obtained by The New Yorker.
The Washington Post reported Saturday that along with resigning from his position as director, Ito stepped down from the boards of several organizations.
In the update to his original report, Farrow also provided a statement from MIT President L. Rafael Reif, who said that because of the “extremely serious” accusations presented in Farrow’s report, the institute will be commissioning “an immediate, thorough and independent investigation.”
In his initial report on MIT, Farrow provided details from dozens of pages of e-mails and internal documents revealing that even though MIT’s official donor database designated Epstein as “disqualified” from donating to the university, the Media Lab “continued to accept gifts from him, consulted him about the use of the funds, and, by marking his contributions as anonymous, avoided disclosing their full extent, both publicly and within the university.”
“Perhaps most notably, Epstein appeared to serve as an intermediary between the lab and other wealthy donors, soliciting millions of dollars in donations from individuals and organizations, including the technologist and philanthropist Bill Gates and the investor Leon Black,” Farrow reported. “According to the records obtained by The New Yorker and accounts from current and former faculty and staff of the media lab, Epstein was credited with securing at least $7.5 million in donations for the lab, including two million dollars from Gates and $5.5 million from Black, gifts the e-mails describe as ‘directed’ by Epstein or made at his behest.”
Farrow specifically pointed to Ito as one of those knowingly involved in the alleged cover-up. “The effort to conceal the lab’s contact with Epstein was so widely known that some staff in the office of the lab’s director, Joi Ito, referred to Epstein as Voldemort or ‘he who must not be named,'” Farrow reports.
The documents reviewed by The New Yorker reveal that the “financial entanglement” between MIT and Epstein “goes well beyond what has been described in public statements by M.I.T. and by Ito,” Farrow wrote. The university has previously claimed that it received $800,000 from Epstein’s various foundations, which Reif said the institute now views with “shame and distress” and pledged to redirect to charities that help victims of sexual abuse.
But Farrow found that the university received far more than that amount. “On Wednesday, Ito disclosed that he had separately received $1.2 million from Epstein for investment funds under his control, in addition to five hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars that he acknowledged Epstein had donated to the lab,” Farrow reported. (Read the full report here.)
Farrow, the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen (himself the subject of sexual assault allegations), has become associated with breaking stories about high-profile figures accused of engaging in sexual misconduct, some of the accusations turning out to be credible, others less so. In 2017, Farrow was one of the first to report on multiple sexual misconduct allegations against disgraced megaproducer and Democratic megadonor Harvey Weinstein. The report helped open the door to a flood of accusations against the producer. In 2018, however, Farrow reported an allegation against Brett Kavanaugh by Deborah Ramirez, despite a lack of corroborating evidence and glaring problems with the now widely dismissed accusation.