NEW YORK (AFP) - Melinda French Gates on Thursday (March 3) criticised her ex-husband Bill Gates for having met multiple times with Jeffrey Epstein, the financier accused of child sex crimes who committed suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial.
In her first televised interview since the couple announced their divorce in May, French Gates also acknowledged that she had once met Epstein, saying that afterwards she "had nightmares".
"I wanted to see who this man was, and I regretted it from the second I stepped in the door," she said, without clarifying when the meeting occurred.
She described Epstein in the meeting as "abhorrent", and "evil personified", but declined to say if she requested her husband to stop meeting with him.
"Any of the questions remaining about what Bill's relationship there was, those are for Bill to answer, but I made it very clear how I felt about him," said French Gates.
When asked by the CBS journalist if her husband's relationship with Epstein played a role in their divorce, the philanthropist, reportedly worth US$6 billion (S$8 billion), said that it was one of "many things" that contributed.
The Wall Street Journal revealed that Bill Gates's March 2020 departure from Microsoft occurred during an investigation into an affair he had with an employee in 2000.
Gates, who founded Microsoft in 1975 and has a reported wealth of US$129 billion, stepped down as the company's CEO in 2000, saying he wanted to focus on his foundation.
He left his full-time role at Microsoft in 2008, but held onto his board seat until March 2020.
Epstein hanged himself in his Manhattan jail cell in August 2019, where he was awaiting charges of sexual exploitation of underage girls.
A socialite and donor, his network of relationships extended from former presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton to British Prince Andrew.
Another person linked to Epstein, the French modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, was found dead in his cell in Paris two weeks ago.
In August, while Gate's divorce was being finalised, he admitted on CNN that it had been "a huge mistake to spend time" with Epstein, but that his goal was to raise money for his foundation.
The former couple continue to lead their eponymous Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation non-profit together despite the divorce.