Lawrence Krauss Defends a Sex Offender, Embarrasses Scientists Everywhere
//UPDATE: Krauss has responded again . . . see the end of the post.//
Jeffrey Epstein is the infamous media mogul who was jailed in 2008 for paying underage prostitutes who said they were recruited by his aides. Some girls were allegedly flown in from Eastern Europe, their visas arranged by his bookkeeper. Epstein only served 13 months in prison thanks to a sweetheart plea agreement which is now being contested by attorneys representing two of the girls, who were 13 and 14 when they were allegedly paid for sex. Both girls are part of a larger group of victims who have won monetary settlements from Epstein in civil cases.
More than 30 underage victims were listed in the plea agreement, and if it is dismissed, Epstein will face more federal charges. These charges may be backed up by even more evidence discovered since his plea agreement, like a diary he kept that, according to victims’ attorneys, contained the names and details of many of the underage girls he paid for sex.
A few days ago The Daily Beast reported that Epstein’s high society friends are closing ranks around him in much the same way we saw high profile actors and others defend Roman Polanski despite the fact that the director admitted to drugging and raping a 13-year old girl.
One of the friends defending Epstein is none other than Professor Lawrence Krauss, famed physicist, writer, skeptic, former guest on my show The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, recent Pharyngula guest blogger, and upcoming speaker at JREF’s Amazing Meeting 9 in Las Vegas. And here’s the kicker: he’s invoking the name of science to do it.
“If anything, the unfortunate period he suffered has caused him to really think about what he wants to do with his money and his time, and support knowledge,” says Krauss. “Jeffrey has surrounded himself with beautiful women and young women but they’re not as young as the ones that were claimed. As a scientist I always judge things on empirical evidence and he always has women ages 19 to 23 around him, but I’ve never seen anything else, so as a scientist, my presumption is that whatever the problems were I would believe him over other people.” Though colleagues have criticized him over his relationship with Epstein, Krauss insists, “I don’t feel tarnished in any way by my relationship with Jeffrey; I feel raised by it.”
It’s bad enough when we hear the friends of prominent convicted criminals bemoan the trying time faced by their pals without a single word about their victims, but this is a bold new frontier in bullshit. If this were a science fair project, it would look like this:
Did Jeffrey Epstein Pay For Sex with Underage Girls?
My rich friend went to jail for paying for sex with underage girls, but he seems like such a nice friend and funder of scientific research.
Those girls were totally 18. At least!
I observed the subject (Jeffrey Epstein) for several hours over several days over the course of several years. I paid close attention to what girls he was with, and I guessed approximately how old each girl sort of looked. I assumed that whenever he was out of my sight, he was doing the same things he did in my presence.
All those girls I saw totally looked at least 18. Wait, let’s say 19 because “18” sounds a little too on-the-nose.
There is no way that the subject had sex with anyone under the age of 18.
Jeffrey Epstein should be free from any further civil or criminal prosecution and hell, he should probably be given a humanitarian award for all the money he’s given to scientific research.
Krauss’ statement is extremely disturbing and makes scientists look like ignorant, biased fools who will twist data to suit their own needs. It’s great that a billionaire thought enough of scientific research to fund some of our best and brightest scientists, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect. It doesn’t even mean he’s not a monster. Those scientists should have the rationality needed to separate their personal feelings from what the evidence shows us, and Krauss has publicly failed in that regard, bringing an enormous amount of embarrassment to scientists and critical thinkers everywhere.
When the Skepchicks received this tip, we wondered if the quote was taken out of context – after all, we all admire Krauss for his books, talks, and public outreach. So, I emailed Krauss to get his thoughts directly. He confirmed that the statement was accurate and sent this statement, which I’m printing as is, in full (see below edit for additional info):
yes it is.. Based on my direct experience with Jeffrey, which is all I can base my assessment on, he is a thoughtful, kind, considerate man who is generous to his friends, and all of the women I have known who have been associated with Jeffrey speak glowingly in the same words..
jeffrey apparently paid for massages with sex… I believe him when he told me he had no idea the girls were underage, and I doubt that people normally are asked for or present a driver’s license under such circumstances… Moreover, I also believe that Jeffrey is an easy target for those who want to take advantage of him… Moreover, I can say with great honesty that Jeffrey’s time in prison led him to seriously examine his life in very positive ways and I don’t believe in blanket condemnations of people. He served time for something that was determined was inappropriate. I honestly don’t know who was the victim in this case. probably everyone was a victim, with no happy resolution or consequences of these activities. I fully expect that these masseuses knew what they were doing, and were not swayed to do anything with Jeffrey that they were not already doing. That is not to approve of the whole behavior, but lots of peopleI know and like have behavior I don’t entirely approve of.. I know it is not politically correct to say that, because in general this is a very sensitive issue and all other things being equal one should take the side of the young women. But all things are not equal in this case, from my point of view. It is a judgement call, and I will not turn my back on a good friend so easily.
A few points:
Epstein didn’t pay for massages with sex, he was charged with and admitted to paying for massages and sex with underaged girls, with money.
Everyone here is not a victim. Epstein admitted to paying for sex with underaged girls and he served a ridiculously short sentence for it. That is not the definition of “victim.”
Many of these girls described being “recruited” by friends and by Epstein’s own aides and the modeling agency he funded. They were brought to his house where they were given money after sex. To say that they were already having sex for money goes in the face of the evidence we have.
Now I’m curious if the other scientists Epstein funded will publicly take a side: Stephen Hawking, Lisa Randall, Murray Gell-Mann, and Gerald Susskind are all named on Epstein’s science site. Let’s hope that if they do, they don’t let their personal interests sway their opinions.
Thanks to Billy Clyde Tuggle for sending in the tip.
//UPDATE: Krauss has emailed me to point out that I didn’t include a remark he made in an earlier email to me (prior to the statement I published). My apologies, as I assumed his second email was the full statement he wanted published. I’ve updated this post to add his first email, which now appears as the first paragraph of his statement prior to the ellipses.
He also wanted to add the following, which, again, I post as-is and in full:
I have read on the web claims of orgies on Jeffrey’s island during scientific meetings that I organized.. Orgies in which I was supposed to have been involved. This kind of nonsense has made me very skeptical of media reports on Jeffrey’s activities. Moreover, I am naturally skeptical by nature, and have looked in to a number of these supposed events, but am not going to share any details with you because I don’t think these are issues that are relevant to Jeffrey’s support of science, my scientific credentials etc.. or that I should discuss in public in any case… I will say however, that as a skeptic you might ask yourself whether there might be any motivation to potentially sue a billionaire with whom you may have been involved in one way or another… someone who might rather settle out of court for a large fee rather than have to deal with publicity, sleazy journalists etc? no, that never happens does it? Not very skeptical of you to wonder I think..
//UPDATE 2: Krauss is continuing to respond in the comments below under the username lmk2011. He’s confirmed to me that this is actually him.