Published On: Mon, Feb 2nd, 2015

Charities Distance Themselves From Disgraced Financier Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein

Some charities that have received money from U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein said they are reviewing their relationships with him or will decline to accept any future gifts from him in the wake of recent allegations he forced an underage girl to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew and other powerful men, Reuters said.

Epstein, 62, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to procuring an underage girl for prostitution and served a year in a Florida jail, has long burnished his reputation as a philanthropist through a series of foundations that he says have given millions of dollars to institutions ranging from Harvard University to a New York junior tennis league, the report said.

The allegations involving Epstein became a tabloid sensation on both sides of the Atlantic after lawyers for one of Epstein’s accusers made them in a court filing just over a month ago. It prompted strong denials from Prince Andrew and from prominent U.S. lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who was also accused of having sex with the girl, Reuters said.

The filing has also renewed questions about Epstein’s once close links to former U.S. President Bill Clinton, though there are no allegations of any wrongdoing by Clinton, according to the report.

In 2006, one of Epstein’s three foundations gave $25, 000 to Bill Clinton’s foundation, according to tax records. Also, Epstein flew Clinton to Africa in 2002 to talk about anti-poverty and anti-AIDS programs. And according to flight records obtained by the website Gawker, the former U.S. president traveled on Epstein’s jet at least 10 other times between 2002 and 2003, Reuters said.

Epstein did not respond to interview requests. In response to two pages of written questions from Reuters, a lawyer for Epstein said the financier’s philanthropy has been widespread for an extensive period of time, according to the report.

“His efforts include making substantial contributions to scientific and medical progress and in helping children in providing them with the educational and technological tools necessary for their having a chance to succeed, ” the lawyer, Martin Weinberg, said in an emailed statement. “It would be unfortunate if the recent media activity would in any way adversely impact Mr. Epstein’s efforts in any of these areas, ” he added.

Well before Epstein went to jail, he saw philanthropy as a way to bring together people from different walks of life in settings ranging from his own mansions to academic conferences, friends said, according to Reuters.

“His interest is in interesting people and interesting ideas, ” said Arizona State University physicist Lawrence Krauss, who directs a program on the origins of life that Epstein has supported. He said he would feel cowardly if he turned away from Epstein because of accusations Krauss knew nothing about, Reuters said.

Epstein has touted his philanthropy through regular press releases, such as one in November that referred to him as “an unusual Harvard investor and private financier.” His total donations are difficult to estimate because Reuters had access only to publicly available tax records for foundations where there was confirmation of a link to Epstein, the report said.

Little is known publicly about how Epstein made his money. He has said that, after working at investment bank Bear Stearns beginning in the 1970s, he managed assets for billionaires such as Leslie Wexner, founder of Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands Inc., Reuters said.

The latest allegations against Epstein emerged on Dec. 30 when lawyers said in a Florida federal court filing that Epstein trafficked a teenager for sexual purposes to prominent businessmen and public figures. The woman and other accusers are asking a judge to examine Epstein’s 2008 plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to see whether their rights as victims were violated, the report said.

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