MIT Media Lab director resigns after criticism over financial ties to Jeffrey Epstein

Joichi Ito, the director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s prestigious Media Lab, resigned on Saturday in the wake of revelations about his acceptance of contributions from Jeffrey Epstein, the multimillionaire financier who died by suicide last month while in prison on federal charges of sex trafficking.

Ito’s resignation came one day after The New Yorker detailed his financial ties to Jeffrey Epstein.

“Last night, The New Yorker published an article that contains deeply disturbing allegations about the engagement between individuals at the Media Lab and Jeffrey Epstein,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif wrote in a letter to the university’s community.

He called the allegations “extremely serious,” saying that “they demand an immediate, thorough and independent investigation.”

“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,” Reif continued.

He said that he received Ito’s resignation on Saturday afternoon.

Reif called the acceptance of gifts from Epstein a “mistake of judgment” and said the university “is actively assessing how best to improve our policies, processes and procedures” in order to “prevent such mistakes in the future.”

In an email to the university’s provost, which was obtained by the The New York Times, Ito wrote: “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.”

Anand Giridharadas, an MSNBC contributor and former New York Times columnist, resigned as a juror for MIT’s Disobedience Award after the Times and other news outlets reported that Ito had taken $525,000 from Epstein for the lab and another $1.2 million for his private investment funds.

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