The free-software advocate suggested in an email thread that one of the convicted pedophile's underage victims may have presented herself as "entirely willing."
Computer scientist and free-software advocate Richard Stallman announced Monday that he has resigned his position at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. Stallman's resignation comes after he suggested in an email thread that one of convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's underage victims may have presented herself as "entirely willing."
"I am resigning effective immediately from my position in CSAIL at MIT," Stallman wrote Monday in an email. "I am doing this due to pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations."
Stallman also resigned as president and board of directors of the Free Software Foundation, the foundation announced Monday. Stallman, the creator of the GNU operating system, founded the nonprofit in 1985.
Epstein died in August of an apparent suicide in jail while facing federal sex-trafficking charges. Federal prosecutors in New York alleged Epstein sexually abused and exploited dozens of underage girls as young as 14.
Stallman's resignation comes just days after Motherboard published an email thread in which Stallman suggests that "most plausible scenario" is that one of Epstein's underage victims "presented herself to [former colleague Marvin Minsky] as entirely willing."
When someone else on the thread points out that Virginia Giuffre was 17 when she was forced to have sex with Minsky, a pioneer in artificial intelligence and founder of the Media Lab, Stallman argued that "it is morally absurd to define 'rape' in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in or whether the victim was 18 years old or 17."
Minsky died in 2016.
Stallman's resignation is the latest chapter in the growing scandal over the MIT's relationship with Epstein. The New Yorker reported earlier this month that the MIT Media Lab had a deeper funding relationship with Epstein than it had previously acknowledged and worked to disguise its contacts with the disgraced financier.
Stallman isn't the only resignation from MIT in the wake of the scandal. Joi Ito, the Media Lab's director, resigned his position a day after the report was published. He also stepped down as a professor and employee of MIT.
Updated 9/22 to correct number of victims Stallman referred to and add more information.