SAN FRANCISCO, CA – OCTOBER 13: Joi Ito speaks onstage at WIRED25 Festival: WIRED Celebrates 25th Anniversary Day 1 on October 13, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25 )
Getty Images for WIRED25
The latest person to be brought down by a connection to Jeffery Epstein has an important Miami connection.
Joichi Ito, also known as Joi Ito, solicited and disguised donations from Epstein to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, where he was director, according to a New Yorker article.
The donations occurred after Epstein had been disqualified as a contributor due to his conviction as a sex offender in Palm Beach County.
Amid a cascade of criticism, Ito resigned from the position at MIT. He also resigned “effective immediately” as a member of the Knight Foundation’s board of trustees and from the board of the New York Times Company.
The Knight Foundation announced his resignation on Twitter.
The foundation invests in journalism, the arts and more in cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight published newspapers. One of the brothers’ flagship publications was the Miami Herald, now owned by McClatchy. The foundation was seeded with money earned by the newspapers when the Knights ran them.
The foundation has been headquartered in Miami since 1990 and the president, Alberto Ibargüen, was formerly publisher of the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald.
Ito’s page on the Knight Foundation website is deleted, but an archived screenshot says he was elected in 2011 and served on the Nominating and Program committees.
His page says Ito is a “serial entrepreneur” who helped start early web companies in Japan, invested early in companies such as Twitter and has been the recipient of many awards.
Andrew Sherry, the vice president of communications at the Knight Foundation, wrote in an email that the foundation endowment comes only from the Knight family. It does not accept donations and has never gotten a donation from Epstein.
“Epstein’s crimes continue to reverberate, but nowhere more painfully than with the girls, now women, who were his victims. Our deepest sympathies go out to them,” Sherry wrote.
In a news release from MIT, the university president, L. Rafael Reif, said the university is conducting an independent investigation.
“The acceptance of the Epstein gifts involved a mistake of judgment,” Reif wrote.
Ito also resigned from his position on the MacArthur Foundation. He could not be immediately reached for comment.
Jeffrey Epstein, a multimillionaire financier, was accused more than a decade ago of sexually abusing nearly three dozen underage girls. Despite the serious nature of the allegations, the U.S. attorney for Southern Florida, Alexander Acosta, shelved a 53-page sex trafficking indictment as part of a deal that allowed Epstein to plead guilty to minor prostitution charges in state court.
In November, the Miami Herald wrote a series of stories, Perversion of Justice, exploring highly questionable aspects of the federal non-prosecution agreement, including the fact that it was kept secret from Epstein’s victims.
In July, Epstein was arrested on renewed sex trafficking charges. In August, Epstein, 66, was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial, the result of an apparent suicide.