MIT scientist resigns over Jeffrey Epstein comments he calls 'misunderstandings and mischaracterizations'

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) computer scientist who said the alleged victims of an associate of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein were “entirely willing" has resigned.

Richard Stallman, a famed open-source advocate, announced his departure in an email published online Monday.

"I am resigning effective immediately from my position in CSAIL at MIT," he wrote. "I am doing this due to pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations."

Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist Richard Stallman announced his resignation Monday. (Michael Debets/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images, File)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist Richard Stallman announced his resignation Monday. (Michael Debets/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images, File)

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Stallman had argued in a leaked email thread from last week that Marvin Minsky – an artificial intelligence pioneer who died in 2016 and was accused of assaulting one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre – had not actually assaulted anyone.

He also argued over the definition of "sexual assault" and "rape" and whether the term applied to Minsky and Giuffre.

"The word 'assaulting' presumes that he applied force or violence, in some unspecified way, but the article itself says no such thing. Only that they had sex," he wrote, referring to an article about Giuffre's testimony against Minsky. "The most plausible scenario is that she presented herself to him as entirely willing."

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The thread was leaked to VICE by MIT alum Selam Jie Gano. He said Stallman was responding to a female student's email about an MIT protest related to Epstein's donations to the elite university.

The student pointed out that Giuffre allegedly was forced to have sex with Minsky in Epstein's home in the Virgin Islands. Stallman replied, "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."

The school has come under heavy scrutiny after reports the MIT Media Lab continued to accept donations from Epstein despite listing him as a "disqualified donor." The gifts allegedly were marked anonymous in an effort to conceal their source, The New Yorker reported.

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The magazine alleged Epstein was credited with at least $7.5 million in donations.

MIT Media Lab director Joichi Ito resigned after the exposé was published.

Fox News' Lucia I. Suarez Sang contributed to this report.