Charities that have received money from US 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.
Epstein (62), who pleaded guilty in 2008 to procuring an underage girl for prostitution and served a year in a Florida jail, has a series of foundations through which he has donated millions of dollars to institutions ranging from Harvard University to a New York junior tennis league.
The allegations involving Prince Andrew became a media 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 US lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who was also accused of having sex with the girl.
Three recipients of Epstein's money said they would accept no more gifts, at least while the recent allegations are under review. They are a cancer researcher at New York City's Mount Sinai hospital, who with colleagues received $50,000 in seed funding, a mentoring programme for young Swedish businesswomen that got $30,000, and Ballet Palm Beach in Florida, which declined to say how much Epstein gave.
“The further I can keep myself from anything like that the better,” Ballet Palm Beach founder Colleen Smith told reporters.
Epstein did not respond to interview requests, though a lawyer for Epstein said the financier’s philanthropy has been widespread for an extensive period of time.
“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.”
According to publicly available tax records, Epstein has given money through at least three foundations. One of the three dissolved in 2012, and a second disbursed only $107,000 in a recent 12-month period, according to its tax return.
The latest allegations against Epstein emerged on December 30th 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 US justice department to see whether their rights as victims were violated.