Microsoft founder Bill Gates told CNN on Wednesday he regretted getting to know suspected sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
"It was a huge mistake to spend time with him, to give him the credibility of being there," said Gates, who added he only met with Epstein in the hopes of raising more money to deal with global health issues.
"I had several dinners with him, you know, hoping that what he said about getting billions of philanthropy for global health through contacts that he had might emerge. When it looked like that wasn't a real thing, that relationship ended."
Epstein, a well-known financier with associations to many powerful and famous people, was arrested in July 2019 for operating a sex trafficking ring in which he sexually abused dozens of underage girls.
Instead of facing federal charges, Epstein pleaded guilty to two state prostitution charges and served just 13 months in prison. He was found dead in a New York jail cell in August 2019 with cause of death being ruled suicide by hanging.
Gates, whose divorce from Melinda French Gates was finalized this week, was asked if his connection to Epstein played a role in the disintegration of his marriage.
"It's a time of reflection, and at this point, I need to go forward," Gates told CNN. "Within the family, we'll heal the best that we can."
The Wall Street Journal reported Melinda Gates began working with divorce lawyers in October 2019, when Bill Gates' ties to the alleged sex trafficker of underage girls surfaced.
Melinda Gates' concerns about their marriage and her husband's Epstein ties began in 2013, sources told the Journal.
Bill Gates has focused on global health issues through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in recent years.
The Gates family will decide during the next two years whether Bill and Melinda can continue to work together for the foundation. If not, Bill Gates will use his personal funds to pay his ex-wife to leave the foundation.
Bill Gates told CNN he hopes Melinda will remain with the organization.
"That would definitely be the best thing for the foundation," Gates said. "Melinda has incredible strengths that she brings that help the foundation be better."
The Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the most influential private foundation in the world, with an endowment worth about $50 billion. It has focused on global health and development and U.S. education issues since incorporating in 2000.
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