More than a year after former Barclays Bank chief Jes Staley left Bowdoin College’s board of trustees, the Maine-based college’s president, Clayton Rose, wrote a letter to alumni on Wednesday explaining how the college handled revelations about Staley’s closeness to Jeffrey Epstein.
“I was clearly wrong,” said Rose, in reference to his previous evaluation that Staley represents what’s best about Bowdoin.
That admission follows the publication of recent emails, in British media and in the Wall Street Journal, showing Staley was closer to the Epstein than the public previously knew.
Epstein, who became notorious for his sexual crimes against minors and his connections to political and cultural elites, was charged in 2006 with solicitation of prostitution. That case snowballed into an FBI investigation and a controversial non-prosecution agreement that immunized Epstein against federal charges.
In June of 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to solicitation of a minor for prostitution, but he only served 3.5 months incarceration and received special treatment. The entire ordeal went under the radar at the time, but later came under extraordinary scrutiny in later years when the startling extent of Epstein’s sex crimes came to light.
Staley, who graduated from Bowdoin in 1979, joined Bowdoin’s board of trustees in 2007. He had been one of the college’s celebrated success stories, and he led the search committee that selected Rose as the college’s current president.
The emails show Staley drank wine with Epstein on his infamous private island while the controversial financier was under house arrest for child sex crimes.
U.S. Virgin Island officials say messages exchanged between Staley and Epstein, which referred to Disney princesses, were really about young women Epstein had or intended to procure for Staley.
Staley served as Epstein’s banker while he worked at J.P. Morgan. According to the Telegraph, the records show Epstein paid sex trafficking victims with cash wires from his J.P. Morgan account as far back as 2008.
Staley’s attorney has denied that Staley had any involvement with Epstein’s alleged crimes.
In his letter, Rose detailed how the college conducted its own investigation of Staley after initial 2019 revelations of the banker’s relationship with Epstein.
“At its October 2019 meeting, the entire board had a full discussion of this matter, and it supported the committee’s recommendation that Jes remain a trustee,” he wrote. “I supported this decision.”
Bowdoin students, on the other hand, did not.
A September 2020 article in the Bowdoin Orient shows students then speaking out for Staley’s removal. Yet it was not until more than a year later, and only after Barclay’s forced his resignation on the recommendation of UK regulators, that Rose and Bowdoin’s trustees ousted him.
Flight records indicate that Staley had visited Epstein’s private island, where underage girls were allegedly coerced into sex acts, on multiple occasions reporting at the time indicated. Once he and his wife even sailed there on their 91-foot yacht, built in Brooklin, Maine.
Bowdoin and the boat are not Staley’s only Maine links. In 2002, the major donor to Democratic candidates wrote a $500 check to Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree’s unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign. The Maine Wire contacted Pingree’s office for a comment but did not receive an immediate response.
It remains to be seen whether current Bowdoin students will be satisfied with Rose’s explanation of how Staley came to be belatedly removed from the college’s board of trustees.
The source of Epstein’s enormous wealth, which enabled him to own the private plane and island that facilitated many of his sex crimes, remains a mystery. As does his various alleged connections to western intelligence services, not to mention his untimely death.
On July 23, 2019, Epstein was found dead while in police custody awaiting trial for sex trafficking charges. Although government officials called the cause of death a suicide, there is little reason to believe that is true.
Bowdoin is not the only New England area institution to become mired in controversies connected to Epstein.
Following his suspicious death, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found itself embroiled in a scandal over financial contributions it accepted from Epstein.
Bowdoin officials told the Maine Wire that Epstein never gave the college a dime.
“Jeffrey Epstein was never asked to donate money to Bowdoin nor has the College ever received any money from him,” said Scott Hood, Bowdoin’s Senior Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs.