A Math Professor Suggested a Jailed Jeffrey Epstein Give Him Money to Repair His Image in the Black Community

“Our accepting your $5 million will show the world you are not a pariah and may help you avoid a conviction like Bill Cosby.”
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell
Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell pictured at a fundraiser at Cipriani Wall Street in 2005. Epstein died by suicide in jail while awaiting sex trafficking charges in 2019; Maxwell was convicted on trafficking and other charges and sentenced to 20 years.

An associate professor of mathematics at Morgan State University, a public historically Black college, sent Jeffrey Epstein a bizarre and self-serving business proposal while he was in prison on sex trafficking charges, in which he argued the disgraced financier and sexual predator should give him millions of dollars to help rehabilitate his image in Black communities.

Dr. Jonathan Farley, a highly credentialed mathematician with degrees from Harvard and Oxford, wrote a colorful email in which he proposed that Epstein, with whom he’d previously had a meeting over Skype, donate money for an endowed chair at Morgan State for “women in mathematics,” and a separate amount to Farley personally, to allow him to become a lecturer at Oxford. (There is no evidence that either Morgan State or Oxford signed on to this scheme; Morgan State did not respond to a request for comment.) Epstein’s donations would, Farley wrote, somehow serve to shore up the disgraced sex offender’s public persona, and possibly even be legally helpful.


“Our accepting your $5 million will show the world you are not a pariah,” he wrote, “and may help you avoid a conviction like Bill Cosby.”

The email from Farley to Epstein was included in thousands of pages of documents uncovered by Motherboard through a public records request we filed with the Bureau of Prisons. Also contained in the release is evidence, first reported by the Associated Press, that shows Epstein attempted to correspond with disgraced USAA gymnastics doctor and convicted serial child molestor Larry Nassar. (The letter Epstein sent to Nassar was returned to prison officials and appears to have arrived about a month after his death; the letter itself was not included in the documents we received.) 

The correspondence Farley sent to Epstein, however, is more detailed. Although portions of the email are redacted, Farley is easily identifiable, because he included a captioned photo of himself in the message to Epstein and because he readily admitted to sending the email when reached for comment by Motherboard. 

“I suspect you in fact have nothing, and you are hoping to get information from me,” Farley wrote, “but I will disappoint you: You may think this is a ‘gotcha’ email, but I have always been open about seeking to raise money from Jeffrey Epstein, Nobel laureate James Watson, Dr. Bill Cosby, defense contractors, the Koch brothers....” (Ellipses his.) 


In his email to Epstein, dated July 30, 2019, Farley first reminded Epstein that the two men had met before. “You called me circa August 2017,” Farley wrote, in large red font, adding that he and Epstein “had a Skype call” in December of that year, along with a Ph.D student of Farley’s. (Now a mathematics professor, she did not respond to a request for comment.)

Farley went on to outline the ways that Epstein could donate money to him or institutions he’s affiliated with, writing, again in large, bold red font, “I can help you.” He added, “I am now throwing you a lifesaver. You can donate to my university, the historically black college, Morgan State University.” He added, in blue font for some reason, “Our accepting your $5 million will show the world you are not a pariah and may help you avoid a conviction like Bill Cosby.” (Farley put Cosby’s name in red.)

“The donation can be for ‘The Jeffrey Epstein Chair for the Promotion of Women in Mathematics,’” Farley added, “which will show the world your support for women.”  

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Alternatively, Farley suggested, Epstein could give him a personal award similar to something called the “Breakthrough Awards” Farley said other professors had received, and gotten $3 million for. 

“You can give me a similar award,” Farley wrote, adding, “I am willing to publically [sic] stand with you, and your gift could generate support in the black community: public support is something you sorely need right now.” 

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Farley then proposed a third option: that Epstein donate money to his alma mater college at Oxford University, which, he wrote, “Needs £1.5 million for a lectureship in pure mathematics.”  

Farley added that he’d spoken with “the head of the college and the head of development,” the latter of whom said that “accepting money from you would be ‘a tough one for a UK institution.’” But, Farley wrote, “if you funded me as an individual and pointed out to them that I could then take up the lectureship for free, they might be open to that. The benefit to you is that I would then be an Oxford University lecturer and you’d have an advocate at one of the world’s most prestigious universities publically [sic] defending you. I could probably generate positive media coverage on your behalf as an Oxford don.” 

After publication, Lincoln College, one of the constituent colleges of Oxford University, which operates independently of the university, told Motherboard in no uncertain terms that the scheme was Farley’s own, and that they never approached Epstein for a donation. Their statement reads, in full:

Lincoln College never approached Jeffrey Epstein for a donation. The College would never have considered approaching him or taking funding from him in any way. In no circumstances would an academic role (or any role) at the College be reserved for an individual. The assertion made by Dr Farley is entirely his own.


In emails to Motherboard, Farley did not dispute the accuracy of the letter.

“It was a letter like that that got Jeffrey Epstein to call me and got Nobel laureate James Watson and ‘Secret Millionaire’ Molly Shattuck to meet with me,” Farley added. “You want funding from someone (for yourself or an organization) and you explain how donating could benefit him or her.” 

Farley, who noted that neither Morgan State or Oxford University sought or received funding from Epstein, wrote, “I'll continue to seek funding from defense contractors, the surviving Koch brother, Dr. Bill Cosby, etc., without expecting that they will do it out of the goodness of their hearts, but I will explain concrete benefits to them.”

Farley is not alone in seeking money from Epstein, although his timing, while the serial rapist was incarcerated and roughly ten days before he died by suicide, was of course suboptimal. In September of 2019, Joichi Ito, then the director of MIT’s Media Lab, resigned in disgrace after a New York Times report about efforts he and other MIT lab officials took to conceal their financial ties with Epstein.

The full email from Farley to Epstein, with redactions from the Bureau of Prisons, is below:

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This article has been updated with a statement from Lincoln College, Oxford.