Reports of allegedly "questionable behavior," as the New York Times puts it, are piling up around Bill Gates in the wake of his divorce announcement. The Microsoft co-founder is accused of having a wandering eye going back years, according to the Times report, and in the Wall Street Journal, sources say it was a relationship with a Microsoft staffer dating back more than two decades that ultimately led to Gates stepping down from the company's board. Meanwhile, the Daily Beast speaks to sources who have more on the alleged relationship between Gates and Jeffrey Epstein that was reportedly integral in Melinda French Gates' decision to divorce. Highlights:
- The Journal's sources say the Microsoft staffer with whom Gates initiated a romantic relationship in 2000 ultimately, in 2019, detailed an alleged sexual relationship with Gates that spanned years. The company's board hired a law firm to investigate the situation, and eventually decided Gates needed to step down, sources say. He did so in March 2020, but a rep, who acknowledges "There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably," says Gates' resignation had nothing to do with that relationship.
- The Times has other stories of Gates allegedly pursuing female colleagues, like an email he allegedly wrote after attending a presentation given by a female Microsoft employee in 2006 asking her to dinner, and, a year or two later, asking the same of a Gates Foundation employee with whom he was on a foundation trip. The paper spoke to six current and former employees of Microsoft, the foundation, and another company that manages the Gates money, who painted a picture of Gates making awkward advances that sometimes left women feeling uncomfortable. But some of them said it was not done in a predatory fashion.
- The Times' sources also say Gates was often "dismissive" toward French Gates at foundation meetings in a way that could be uncomfortable.
- In 2017, the Gateses learned of a sexual harassment complaint against Gates' longtime money manager, which, sources say, he helped to get settled. The accuser signed a nondisclosure agreement as part of the settlement in 2018, but French Gates was allegedly not happy with how her husband had handled it, and hired a law firm to conduct an independent probe. The money manager was put on leave during that probe, but was eventually reinstated and remains in his position.
- It was the year after that that Gates' relationship with Epstein started making headlines and French Gates, reportedly, began looking into divorce after learning things about their relationship she had not previously known. Gates met Epstein in 2011, and sources say they got together dozens of times over the years; the Daily Beast's sources say Gates viewed his trips to Epstein's as a break from his marriage, which, they say, he described to Epstein as "toxic."
- The word from Gates' rep, who says Gates only ever met Epstein to discuss philanthropy: "It is extremely disappointing that there have been so many untruths published about the cause, the circumstances and the timeline of Bill Gates’s divorce. ... The rumors and speculation surrounding Gates’s divorce are becoming increasingly absurd, and it’s unfortunate that people who have little to no knowledge of the situation are being characterized as ‘sources.'"
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