Bill Gates "pursued" several women in his office long after marrying the now estranged Ms. Melinda in 1994 – but according to a report on Sunday, it was the reveal of his connections to pedophile Jeffrey Epstein that really shook their marriage.
The New York Times described two cases in which the billionaire tech mogul awkwardly surveyed women who worked for him at Microsoft
and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Later on Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft directors ruled in 2020 that Gates must step down from the board after allegations of an inappropriate sexual relationship with an employee were made in 2000. Gates stepped down from his seat in March 2020 before the board could act.
Continue reading: Microsoft directors wanted Gates to step down from the board due to improper relationship
The incidents at times resulted in an awkward work environment, with Gates' personal life becoming gossip amongst employees, six current and former employees told The Times.
In one case, after a presentation by a Microsoft employee in 2006, Gates, the then chairman of the company, emailed the woman to invite her to dinner, two people familiar with the exchange told the Times.
"If this makes you feel uncomfortable, pretend it never happened," Gates wrote in an email to the employee, according to the report.
The woman was uncomfortable and pretended that Gates had never asked her, the Times reported.
Years later, another woman who worked for the Gates Philanthropic Foundation told the Times that he asked her while on a work trip to New York and said, “I want to see you. Will you have dinner with me "
The woman remembered feeling uncomfortable but laughed so as not to answer.
Some of the staff who spoke to the Times said they did not view Gate's behavior as predatory and noted that he was not pressuring women to submit to his advances.
It is unclear how much Melinda knew about her husband's office behavior.
However, she was reportedly upset about how Bill handled a previously undisclosed sexual harassment lawsuit against his longtime money manager Michael Larson in 2018.
Then, in 2019, her husband's relationship with Epstein was revealed. The Times reported at the time that Bill had spent time with the convicted sex offender on multiple occasions, including flying his so-called private jet, the Lolita Express, and attending a late-night meeting at his Manhattan townhouse.
Melinda – a global advocate for women and girls – had warned her husband 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 relationship between the two men that Melinda hadn't known before – and she hired divorce lawyers to kick off the couple's divorce announcement earlier that month.
"She decided it was best for her to leave her marriage as she entered the next stage of her life," one person who spoke to Melinda recently told the Times.
Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for Bill, said he had never mistreated employees and "had rumors and speculations" about his relationship with Melinda and their divorce.
"It is extremely disappointing that so many untruths have been published about the cause, circumstances and timing of Bill Gates' divorce," Arnold said in a statement.
"The rumors and speculation about Gates' divorce are growing absurd and it is unfortunate that people who know little to nothing about the situation are characterized as' sources'."
This report originally appeared on NYPost.com.