On Friday, NBC News uncovered a calendar showing at least two Harvard University professors meeting with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 2014. Epstein was arrested this past weekend on charges of child sex trafficking, inspiring a new round of concern about the financier’s connections to powerful people and institutions. The financier connected himself to Harvard, a school he did not attend, by granting money to the institution — money the university has decided not to return.
Perhaps even worse, after NBC News reached out to Harvard for comment on the calendar, the calendar temporarily disappeared from the internet. PJ Media has reached out to the university and to Genetics Professor George M. Church, who compiled the calendars, for comment. This story will be updated with any comment received from either.
Epstein, who donated $6.5 million to the school’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics in 2003, had phone calls, meetings, and meals with members of the Harvard faculty at least six times in 2014, according to the archived calendar and the NBC News report. Church’s personal calendar cataloged numerous meetings with the sex offender. Church holds professorships at Harvard, Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The calendar lists meetings with Epstein: on April 22 at the Genetics Department building; over the phone on April 23; at lunch on June 21; over the phone on September 21; an October 21 teleconference also including James Clement, an independent biomedical researcher; and a dinner on November 30 including Church, Epstein, entrepreneur Joh Ito, Linked-In co-founder Reid Hoffman, and another Harvard professor, Martin Nowak.
Epstein has sought to cultivate the public image of a “Harvard man,” despite the fact he never attended the school. He donated to the university, frequented office blocks from campus, and flew in his private plane to host seminars there with prominent professors, however. Alan Dershowitz, an emeritus law professor who served as one of Epstein’s lawyers, told The Boston Globe how Epstein cultivated this public image.
“He had a close connection to Harvard,” Dershowitz admitted. Epstein’s foundation sent out press releases referring to the financier as a “Harvard mogul” and “renowned science and Harvard investor.”
Dershowitz himself has been caught up in the accusations against Epstein. Two women alleged that Epstein directed them to have sex with Dershowitz, though the lawyer denies ever having met them. Dershowitz also helped negotiate the generous plea deal between Epstein and prosecutors in Florida, including Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who announced his resignation on Friday in the wake of new charges against Epstein. (On the plea deal, Dershowitz was representing Epstein while Acosta was prosecuting him. Therefore, accusations of Acosta orchestrating the deal are more serious than any aspersions cast on Dershowitz for doing his job.)
Harvard has not returned the donations from Epstein, despite the new round of allegations. “The university has no plans to return the $6.5 million to Epstein,” a Harvard spokesperson told USA Today on Thursday. A university source said that the funds were spent for their intended use within a few years after they were received.
Arguably worse, the calendar disappeared from Church’s website shortly after NBC News reached out to Harvard for a comment.
“Church’s 2014 calendar, which was attached to his personal website, was temporarily removed from the internet after NBC News made inquiries to Harvard,” NBC News reported. “It was then restored to the site but in a less prominent position. The calendar link on the site now defaults to a current 2019 schedule.”
A Harvard official told the outlet that the university does not control whom faculty members meet with or talk to.
Even so, the question of a cover-up remains. Why did the calendar disappear right after NBC News requested a comment? Did the university direct Church to remove it? Did Church personally decide to remove it?
This story will be updated with any response.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.