Billionaire Bill Gates answered questions on Monday about his relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
In an interview with Australian current affairs show 7.30 on Monday, the Microsoft cofounder was asked whether he regretted maintaining a relationship with Epstein.
“You’re going way back in time,” Gates responded. “But I will say for the over a hundredth time that, yeah, I shouldn’t have had dinners with him.”
Journalist Sarah Ferguson, who was interviewing Gates, pointed out that he had stayed in contact with the convicted sex offender against his ex-wife Melinda’s advice and wishes. She asked Gates if his then wife had been warning him about Epstein’s “way of sexually compromising people.”
“No,” Gates said. “I had dinner with him, and that’s all.”
Epstein was a powerful financier who died of an apparent suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking and conspiracy charges—his alleged crimes included paying girls under the age of 18 to perform sex acts.
The disgraced money manager served 13 months of an 18-month prison sentence between 2008 and 2009 for soliciting a minor—identified in court papers as a 14-year-old girl—for prostitution. He avoided federal charges, which would have meant a life sentence, thanks to a plea bargain described by the Miami Herald as the “deal of a century.” Alex Acosta, who served as Labor Secretary under President Donald Trump, resigned from his role in 2019 over his role in the orchestration of the plea deal, which ended an FBI investigation into whether more powerful people were involved in Epstein’s trafficking ring.
It was also reported last year that Epstein had paid one of his accusers $500,000 for her silence.
A New York judge ruled upon Epstein’s release from jail in 2009 that he should be classed as a level 3 sex offender, meaning there was a high risk he would repeat his offenses.
Despite being a known sex offender who was open about his preferences for “young girls,” Epstein still continued to count a string of famous people as friends and acquaintances after spending time in prison.
In 2019, an investigation by the New York Times found that Gates met with Epstein “many times” even after the latter had served his sentence, with at least three of those meetings reportedly taking place at Epstein’s townhouse in Manhattan.
At the NYT’s Dealbook conference a month later, Gates said he had believed billions of dollars would come from his meetings with Epstein to go toward philanthropic endeavors—but that “that money never appeared.”
His discussion at the Dealbook event isn’t the only time Gates has addressed his ties to Epstein before Monday, with the tech billionaire labeling the relationship a “huge mistake.”
Melinda Gates has also spoken out about her former husband’s relationship with Epstein, telling CBS last year that it had contributed to the breakdown of their marriage and that she “did not like that he’d had [those] meetings.”
“I made that clear to him,” she said. “[Epstein] was abhorrent, he was evil personified.”
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