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Hasty Pudding Donates to Anti-Sex Trafficking Nonprofit Following Criticism of Epstein Donations

The Hasty Pudding's clubhouse, located in Harvard Square across from The Garage.
The Hasty Pudding's clubhouse, located in Harvard Square across from The Garage. By Jonathan G. Yuan
By Shera S. Avi-Yonah and Delano R. Franklin, Crimson Staff Writers

In the wake of an August petition calling on the Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770 to donate funds connected to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the Hasty Pudding announced a $50,000 donation to an anti-sex trafficking nonprofit Monday.

Undergraduates in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, which falls under the Institute, organized a petition calling on its graduate board to donate money connected with Epstein to a charity that combats sex trafficking. Dozens of women have accused Epstein, a billionaire investor, of sexually assaulting them when they were children.

The Epstein-linked charity Gratitude America, Ltd. donated $50,000 to the Hasty Pudding Institute in 2016, according to tax filings; Epstein served as president of Gratitude America in 2014. The August petition called on the graduate board to donate an equal amount to charity.

Hasty Pudding Institute spokesperson Guan-Yue Chen ’17 and Hasty Pudding Theatricals President Elias W. “Eli” Russell ’20 did not respond to multiple requests for comment on whether Epstein-related pushback prompted the Monday announcement.

Still, the Pudding’s donation satisfies the request outlined by the petition. The organization gave funds to Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, a group that supports underage and young adult victims of sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

“It is impossible to overstate the import and efficacy of the work that [GEMS President] Rachel Lloyd and GEMS does for horrifically exploited young woman. GEMS is, in many ways, unique in its mission and its success stories,” Hasty Pudding Institute President Andrew L. Farkas ’82 said in a press release announcing the donation.

The Hasty Pudding’s announcement came less than two weeks after The Crimson reported on the petition and other internal efforts to push the organization toward donating the Epstein-linked funds.

The Monday press release also briefly noted other donations the Institute made this year, including gifts to the Arthur Miller Foundation and the Maestro Cares Foundation.

The Hasty Pudding Institute previously named Epstein one of its major donors. The organization’s website listed him among donors contributing over $50,000 in 2018 as recently as April 2019. Epstein is not on the roster of 2019 donors.

In August, current members and alumni of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals questioned the decision to keep the funds associated with Epstein, who faced charges for crimes including sex trafficking of minors.

Epstein died in an apparent suicide in a Manhattan jail cell last month awaiting his trial for those charges.

A November 2018 report by the Miami Herald identified roughly 80 women who allege Epstein sexually abused them between 2001 and 2006 and uncovered a sex ring Epstein operated out of his Palm Beach, Fla. home.

Prosecutors first convicted Epstein in 2008 on charges related to the solicitation of an underage prostitute. He served only 13 months in prison for those charges, however, with a generous work release allowance.

Epstein was again indicted in July 2019 on one count of sex trafficking of a minor and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

Harvard has announced it will donate funds remaining from gifts Epstein made to the University to organizations that support victims of human trafficking and sexual assault. University President Lawrence S. Bacow wrote last month that Harvard would donate an unspent balance of $186,000 in gifts from Epstein and conduct a review into the University’s connections to Epstein. Bacow also wrote that records revealed the University received $8.9 million in donations from Epstein between 1998 and 2007.

Harvard’s Office of the General Counsel is conducting the review. Bacow said in a Monday interview that the University hired an outside firm to assist its lawyers.

—Staff writer Shera S. Avi-Yonah can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @saviyonah.

—Staff writer Delano R. Franklin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @delanofranklin_.

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