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Last week MarijuanaMoment sent out a piece hedded “Prohibitionist Group Represented By Former Trump AG Barr Urges DEA To Delay Marijuana Rescheduling Process.”

It was a non-story (and Trump's name didn't belong in the headline), but it triggered a memory of the strong, almost delicious smell of agar in the Drosophila Lab at Columbia University. As a high-school senior in 1959, I had attended some lectures there thanks to the “Science Honors Program” directed by Donald Barr, the former AG’s father. (It's probably why I majored in biochemistry.)

About five years later I was back in NYC, working at Scientific American when Donald Barr contacted me out of the blue, eager to connect. He invited himself over one evening and tried to convince me that US intervention in Vietnam was righteous. He wouldn't relent, wouldn't allow a change of subject. During World War II Barr had been with the Office of Strategic Services, predecessor to the CIA (which they say you never leave).

Looking back, I figure the Russians' launching of Sputnik led to Donald Barr creating the Science Honors Program at Columbia in 1958. In 1964 he became principal of Dalton, an elite private school on the East Side of Manhattan.

In 1974 he hired Jeffrey Epstein, a 20-year old college dropout with no teaching experience, to teach math at Dalton. Barr's relationship with Epstein may be the most under-reported aspect of that sordid saga. If Epstein had stood trial, the coverage would have been intense, and the fact that his career had been launched by the Attorney General's father would have been been brought to the forefront.

But by an amazing stroke of luck for the super-rich perverts who had partied on Epstein's island – and for Attorney General William Barr, the official at the very top of the law-enforcement hierarchy – two low-ranking guards at a Manhattan jail absented themselves from Epstein's tier and he hung himself. There would be no trial. No more revelations.

According to Wikipedia, Donald Barr was born into a Jewish family (his mother was a DeYoung – and a psychologist). He converted to Catholicism in the Cardinal Spellman era and married a woman named Mary Margaret Ahern. Their four kids were raised Catholic.

Wikipedia downplays Donald Barr's role in launching Epstein's career: “Barr is alleged to have had a role in hiring future financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein as a math teacher.” But Epstein's lack of teaching credentials or experience is duly noted, and an astonishing fact is provided: “In 1973, Barr published Space Relations, a science fiction novel about a planet ruled by oligarchs who engage in child sex slavery. It has been noted that the plot of the novel anticipates the crimes of Epstein and his convicted and prosecuted accomplice (the list of politicians and celebrities involved in sex crimes remains hidden), Ghislaine Maxwell.”

Why did the Jeffrey Epstein-Donald Barr connection get so little media attention? Sean Elder, a contributing writer for Town & Country, had interviewed some aging Dalton nymphets and filed a story soon after Epstein's so-called suicide. His editor – undoubtedly aware that very powerful men wanted the whole sordid affair erased from memory, and maybe hoping to get their own offspring into Dalton – rejected the piece, which can be found at “My editor thought that events had outpaced my reporting,” Elder explains diplomatically. Some excerpts follow:

Dr. Anna Salter, who has examined countless sex offenders in her work, says Epstein is more accurately labeled a hebephile, someone who is attracted to 11 to 14 year olds. A detective who investigated Epstein said he lost interest in girls when their braces came off. “That’s the kind of statement that we associate with hebephiles,” says Salter, who has written extensively about sexual predators and pedophiles, and emphasizes that she has not examined Epstein. “Many of them just lose interest when someone becomes fully mature and has an adult body.”

One parent called him ‘the Captain Queeg of Dalton School,’ prone to high-handed authoritarianism at a campus with a looser academic reputation. He was right-wing during the Vietnam War, when much of the staff, and students, were on the other side, and some of his hires may have reflected his bias. Bill Adler, who attended Dalton in the seventies, recalls ‘an economics teacher who essentially taught the philosophy of Ayn Rand.’ And then there was the anti-Castro Spanish teacher.

Gambino Roche was a Cuban political refugee who taught Spanish at Dalton,” although it is unclear whether he possessed any teaching credentials or experience,” Mark Robinson, class of ’74, wrote in an unpublished memoir about his time at the school.

The connections Jeffrey Epstein made while at Dalton set him up for life. He was tutoring the son of Alan “Ace” Greenberg there when the Bear Stearns honcho took a shine to the outsider. Epstein left the investment bank under murky circumstances (Greenberg has since died, and Bear Stearns collapsed in the midst of the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008) and soon was making a tidy living the old-fashioned way, helping super-rich people find inventive ways to avoid paying income tax. It was his association with Ohio-based Les Wexner, founder and CEO of L Brands (Victoria’s Secret, Henri Bendel) that secured his fortune. He made hundreds of millions managing Wexner’s billions, bought mansions in NY, Paris, and Palm Beach, and Little Saint James in the US Virgin Islands. The staff at his private island called his retreat (the site of many alleged orgies involving underage girls) “Little Saint Jeff’s,” while the jet that brought them was dubbed “The Lolita Express.”

One Comment

  1. Jonah raskin July 1, 2024

    Thanks for this story!

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