Ohio State’s Wexner Center for the Arts received $336,000 in donations from Jeffrey Epstein. Credit: Lantern file photo

Ohio State received $336,000 in donations from the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the university announced Thursday. 

Following a review from national accounting firm EY, formerly Ernst & Young, the university announced that it received the pledges from Epstein and the J. Epstein Foundation, including the 1990 gift to the Wexner Center’s membership fund that was disclosed in July, according to a university press release. All donations were made to the Wexner Center for the Arts and were made “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,” the release states. 

The review cost Ohio State $97,568, university spokesperson Ben Johnson said.  

The university will donate $336,000— paid through funds given to the university to be used at the discretion of a dean, chair or other university official and not restricted donor funds, tuition or tax dollars — to the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Initiative.

Epstein was arrested July 6, 2019, and charged with sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, according to an indictment unsealed July 8, 2019, in a Manhattan federal court. A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York states Epstein “enticed and recruited” dozens of minor girls, some as young as 14, between 2002 and ’05.

Epstein died by suicide Aug. 10, 2019, in his jail cell.

The review included fundraising documentation from before 1980, and EY confirmed that the J. Epstein Foundation donated $260,000 between 1990 and ’97, according to the release. EY also found one note that potentially added up to $335,000. 

In 2007, C.O.U.Q. Foundation, Inc., of which Epstein was a director and officer, donated $2.5 million to renovate the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The donation did not originate from Epstein, but from the Wexner Children’s Trust and the Leslie H. Wexner Charitable Fund, according to the release. 

Leslie Wexner is chair of the Wexner Medical Center Board of Trustees and a prolific donor, giving more than $100 million to the university, according to previous Lantern reporting.

In an Aug. 8, 2019, letter to the Wexner Foundation, Wexner said he severed ties with Epstein in 2007 after he had discovered Epstein had misappropriated “vast sums of money.”

“I know now that my trust in him was grossly misplaced and I deeply regret having ever crossed his path,” Wexner said in the letter.

The university does not have further comment on Epstein’s relationship with Wexner, Johnson said.

L Brands, of which Wexner is now chairman emeritus after stepping down as CEO Feb. 20, hired outside counsel in July 2019 to examine Epstein’s involvement with the company, according to several news reports. The company has not released the details of the investigation yet.

EY found no real estate, investments or purchasing transactions between the university and Epstein or his “affiliated entities,” according to the release.

The length of time for the review of donations, which began in July, to be completed was due to “the age and non-digital nature” of documents, the release said.