Bill Gates “pursued” several women in his office long after he wed now-estranged wife Melinda in 1994 — but it was the exposure of his ties to pedophile Jeffrey Epstein that really shook their marriage, according to a report on Sunday.
Later Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported Microsoft directors in 2020 decided Gates needed to step down from the board after allegations about an inappropriate sexual relationship with a staffer in 2000. Gates resigned his seat in March 2020 before the board could act.
The incidents at times created an uncomfortable workplace environment, with Gates’ personal life becoming gossip fodder among employees, six current and former staffers told the Times.
In one instance, following a presentation by a female Microsoft employee in 2006, Gates, the company’s then-chairman, emailed the woman to ask her out to dinner, two people familiar with the exchange told the Times.
“If this makes you uncomfortable, pretend it never happened,” Gates wrote in an email to the employee, according to the report.
The woman was uncomfortable and pretended Gates never asked her out, the Times reported.
A few years later, another woman, who worked for the Gates’ philanthropic foundation, told the Times that he asked her out during a work trip to New York, saying “I want to see you. Will you have dinner with me?”
The woman recalled that she felt uncomfortable but laughed to avoid responding.
Some of the employees who spoke to the Times said they didn’t see Gates’ behavior as predatory, noting that he didn’t pressure the women to submit to his advances.
It’s unclear how much Melinda knew about her husband’s office behavior.
But she was reportedly upset over how Bill handled a previously undisclosed sexual harassment claim against his longtime money manager, Michael Larson, in 2018.
Then, in 2019, her husband’s relationship with Epstein was exposed, with the Times reporting at the time that Bill had spent time with the convicted sex offender on multiple occasions — including flying on his so-called “Lolita Express” private jet and attending a late-night gathering at his Manhattan townhouse.
Melinda — a global advocate for women and girls — had warned her hubby that she was uncomfortable with Epstein after they both met with him in 2013, the Daily Beast previously reported.
The 2019 report apparently included details about the ties between the two men that Melinda hadn’t previously known — and she hired divorce lawyers, setting in motion the couple’s divorce announcement this month.
“She decided that it was best for her to leave her marriage as she moved into the next phase of her life,” a person who recently spoke with Melinda told the Times.
Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for Bill, said he had never mistreated any employees and slammed “rumors and speculation” about his relationship with Melinda and their divorce.
“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,” Arnold said in a statement.
“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.’”