Melinda Gates met with divorce attorneys as early as 2019 amid concerns over her husband’s links to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Melinda and Bill Gates have not said was ended their marriage of more than 25 years but the Journal reported that Melinda Gates told divorce attorneys in 2019 that the marriage was “irretrievably broken.”
Melinda Gates has worked with lawyers at several firms to end the marriage since then, according to the report.
One of the concerns she raised was her husband’s dealings with Epstein. Her concerns about the relationship dated back to 2013, a former Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation employee told the outlet.
The couple said in a statement last week that they “no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”
The couple negotiated their divorce throughout the pandemic even as they made numerous joint media appearances.
NY Times report prompted concerns:
Melinda Gates and her advisers held several calls in October 2019 after The New York Times reported that Bill Gates met with Epstein on multiple occasions and at least once stayed late into the night at Epstein’s home after he was convicted of sex offenses in Florida. He died in jail while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges in 2019.
A spokeswoman for Bill Gates said in 2019 that the two men met to discuss philanthropy.
“Bill Gates regrets ever meeting with Epstein and recognizes it was an error in judgment to do so,” the spokeswoman said.
Melinda Gates told her husband she was uncomfortable with Epstein after they met him in 2013, according to the report, but Bill and other Foundation employees continued a relationship with Epstein.
“I met him,” Bill Gates told the Journal in 2019. “I didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him.”
A spokeswoman said Friday that he stands by that statement.
Gates had numerous meetings with Epstein:
The Times reported that Gates visited Epstein multiple times between 2011 and 2013 and that Epstein pitched a new charitable fund at those meetings.
In 2013, Gates took a ride on Epstein’s infamous private jet from New Jersey to Florida and also met with him that year in New York,
“I didn’t go to New Mexico or Florida or Palm Beach or any of that,” Gates said in 2019. “There were people around him who were saying, ‘Hey, if you want to raise money for global health and get more philanthropy, he knows a lot of rich people.’ Every meeting where I was with him were meetings with men. I was never at any parties or anything like that. He never donated any money to anything that I know about.”