Joichi Ito speaking at Engadget Expand NY 2013 in NYC.
Photo: Craig Barritt (Getty Images for AOL)
The director of MIT’s Media Lab, Joichi Ito, stepped down on Saturday after his and the research institution’s extensive ties to late financier and accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein were exposed, the New York Times reported.
In an email to MIT provost Martin A. Schmidt, 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… While this chapter is truly difficult, I am confident the lab will persevere.”
Epstein died in custody at Metropolitan Correctional Center’s last month while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges involving dozens of victims and allegations and rumors that others in his jet-setting social circle were involved. Authorities ruled the death a suicide.
On Friday, the New Yorker published an explosive exposé showing that the Media Lab accepted much more in donations from Epstein—who was known to be a convicted sex offender following a controversial 2008 plea bargain deal with prosecutors, but made a point of ingratiating himself with members of the scientific community with promises of funding—than it had publicly admitted. The New Yorker also published emails showing that the Media Lab under Ito had tried to conceal funding it had received from Epstein, as well as sizeable donations from others that Epstein solicited on the lab’s behalf; the magazine alleged these efforts to hide Epstein’s contributions to the Media Lab were so well known that Ito’s staff referred to the financier as “Voldemort or ‘he who must not be named.’”