Earlier this week, Joichi Ito was revealed to have taken money from convicted sex offender and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein for his MIT Media Lab. In addition to the $525,000 he reportedly took for the lab, he also received $1.2 million for his personal investment funds.
TechCrunch reports that Ito has now stepped down from his position as director of MIT Media Lab, as well as resigned as a professor of the university in the wake of the revelations.
“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 email to the provost of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Martin A. Schmidt, per The New York Times.
In addition to accepting the funding, Ronan Farrow’s The New Yorker report revealed that Ito and MIT Media Lab’s head of development, Peter Cohen, worked together to ensure that Epstein’s donations were kept anonymous and his name was not included in disclosure statements. This finding suggests that Ito was aware of Epstein’s history and 2008 charges of soliciting and procuring minors for prostitution, and he still decided to use his funding.
Joichi Ito, head of MIT's @medialab, said in 2008: "Don’t invest with or take money from assholes."
Then he took money from Jeffrey Epstein.
— David Enrich (@davidenrich) September 6, 2019
Ito’s decision to use Epstein’s funds and the lab’s purported pattern of hiding the disgraced financier’s involvement with the institution reportedly caused friction. According to Signe Swenson, a former development associate and alumni coordinator at the lab who spoke with Farrow, her 2016 resignation was due to her discomfort with the lab’s Epstein funds and efforts to keep their source secret.
In response to the revelations, MIT President L. Rafael Reif sent a letter to the MIT community on Saturday that suggests the need for an “immediate, thorough and independent investigation” into the matter.
“This morning, I asked MIT’s General Counsel to engage a prominent law firm to design and conduct this process. I expect the firm to conduct this review as swiftly as possible, and to report back to me and to the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation, MIT’s governing board.”
Epstein’s wealth landed him connections and relationships with many famous people, including Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew. Per The Inquisitr, Andrew’s connections to the accused sex trafficker are reportedly causing strain in the British royal family. In addition, they appear to have pushed Andrew to turn off comments on his Instagram page.