Jeffrey Epstein said the underage sex charges to which he once pleaded guilty were no worse than “stealing a bagel,” The New York Times reported Saturday in a piece detailing the relationship between the deceased money manager and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates.
The Times cited two unnamed people working on behalf of the Gates Foundation who were present when Epstein made the analogy at his infamous Manhattan townhouse in late 2011. A small group had been sent to discuss a potential philanthropic endeavor that would have involved Gates, but never progressed.
Epstein told his guests that if they searched his name on the internet they could be led to conclude he was an unsavory character. He then downplayed his crimes.
Gates has denied knowing that Epstein was a serial sexual abuser accused of frequently soliciting sexual services from young women and underage girls. In 2014, the Microsoft founder donated $2 million to MIT’s Media Lab, reportedly at the behest of Epstein, who himself donated to the Media Lab. Gates disputes that Epstein ever directed him to spend money and says he regrets ever meeting with him.
But they reportedly met several times in the years after Epstein served an extraordinarily lenient jail sentence for soliciting sex with a minor and became a registered sex offender. In an email about their first meeting, Gates reportedly said he stayed late at Epstein’s mansion because a “very attractive Swedish woman and her daughter dropped by,” and said he thought Epstein’s “lifestyle” was “intriguing.”
The money manager was found dead in his federal prison cell on Aug. 10 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Prosecutors in New York say dozens of other women have come forward to tell them how they suffered abuse at Epstein’s various properties including the Manhattan townhouse. He also owned property in Paris; Palm Beach, Florida; New Mexico; and the U.S. Virgin Islands, among other places, along with a private jet.
Epstein is now known to have used his connections to wealthy and influential people to lure other powerful individuals into his orbit, including businesspeople, presidents and royalty.