Ohio State statement on receiving donation from Jeffrey Epstein

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Jeffrey Epstein

FILE – This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry, shows Jeffrey Epstein. The warden in charge when Jeffrey Epstein ended his life in his jail cell is being moved to a leadership position at another federal correctional facility, putting him back in the field with inmates despite an ongoing investigation into the financier’s death, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ohio State University completed its review of a donation it received from Jeffrey Epstein and is releasing public records associated with the review. 

Ohio State began its review in July 2019.

Epstein was arrested and charged with sex trafficking and having sex with girls as young as 14. He pleaded not guilty before committing suicide on August 10, 2019.

 In a 2019 letter to the Wexner Foundation, L Brands CEO Les Wexner claimed that Epstein “misappropriated vast sums of money from me and my family.” 

Epstein worked as Wexner’s personal finance manager and the two developed a strong relationship.  

The Ohio State review, conducted by the national accounting firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young), identified $336,000 in donations and pledges from Epstein and the J. Epstein Foundation to the university, including a 1990 gift of $1,000 to the Wexner Center’s Membership Fund disclosed in July. 

All of the donations in question were made to the Wexner Center for the Arts at least two decades ago and many years before any questions about Epstein surfaced.

“The university has determined that, in light of Epstein’s reprehensible crimes, retaining these gifts would not be consistent with the university’s values,” Ohio State said in the statement.. “Accordingly, Ohio State will contribute $336,000 to the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Initiative.”

The university has identified discretionary funds for this purpose and will not use restricted donor funds, tuition or tax dollars.   

The review examined a range of records, including fundraising documentation dating back to before 1980 as well as Ohio State real estate, treasury and investment records. In conducting the review, EY was provided full access to Ohio State giving records and related documentation as well as access to historical documentation maintained by the Wexner Center for the Arts, Office of Advancement and University Archives. The age and non-digital nature of many documents were a challenge that added to the time needed to complete the analysis. 

EY confirmed documentation demonstrating that gifts were received from the J. Epstein Foundation in the amount of $260,000 from 1990 to 1997. One additional document noted a potential total of $335,000 in gifts. While the review could not confirm receipt of the additional $75,000 pledged, the university opted to make a donation to the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Initiative that equals the amount of the larger figure of funds received or pledged, including the $1,000 membership fund gift originally identified in July. 

The university also reported in July a 2007 gift of $2.5 million from the COUQ Foundation, Inc., of which Epstein was a director and officer.

“The review found that this gift, which supported a renovation of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, originated from the Wexner Children’s Trust and the Leslie H. Wexner Charitable Fund and not from Jeffrey Epstein,” Ohio State said in the statement.

Ohio State also asked EY to examine real estate, investments and purchasing transactions as part of the review.

“A review of this data found that Ohio State had not engaged in real estate, investments or purchasing transactions with Epstein or his known affiliated entities,” Ohio State said in the statement.

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