In an interview that aired Thursday with Gayle King, the philanthropist said she opposed Bill’s past meetings with Epstein.
"I did not like that he had meetings with Jeffrey Epstein, no," Melinda said during the "CBS Mornings" interview. "I made that clear to him."
Melinda revealed that she too met Epstein "exactly one time because I wanted to see who this man was."
Upon their meeting, she says she "regretted it from the second I stepped in the door."
"He was abhorrent. He was evil personified," Melinda said. "I had nightmares about it afterward."
She also spoke up in support of Epstein’s victims.
"My heart breaks for these young women because that’s how I felt and here I’m an older woman. My god, I feel terrible for those young women. It was awful. He was awful," Melinda added.
Asked whether Bill continued to visit with Epstein despite her opposition after meeting him herself, Melinda said: "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."
The 66-year-old financier killed himself at a Manhattan federal lockup as he awaited a sex trafficking trial in 2019. Epstein’s death came more than two years before his former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, 60, was convicted of sex trafficking and conspiracy charges in Manhattan federal court.
According to previous reports, citing sources, Gates and Epstein met at a dinner in 2011.
In a statement, Bill said meeting with Epstein is something he "regrets deeply."
"It was a substantial error in judgment," Bill's statement added.
Elsewhere in the interview, Melinda discussed the end of her marriage to the billionaire. She said she was committed to the relationship from the very start, and felt bad that the divorce likely stunned people around the world.
"First of all, I want to say that on the day I got married I never thought I’d end up being divorced. Unfortunately, I felt like I needed to take a different path. We knew when the divorce was going to be announced that it was going to be a surprise to people. I felt bad about that. You can’t anticipate something like that," she said.
The author and women’s advocate was asked about an affair the Microsoft co-founder had with a staffer 20 years ago. A spokesperson for Gates confirmed it last May.
"I certainly believe in forgiveness, so I thought we had worked through some of that," the 57-year-old said.
"It wasn’t one moment or one specific thing that happened," Melinda clarified. "There just came a point in time where there was enough there that I realized it just wasn’t healthy, and I couldn’t trust what we had."
Asked about the rumors that there was more than one affair, Melinda said: "I think those are questions Bill needs to answer."
Looking back at their split, Melinda told King that she cried "a lot of tears for many days." And there were other moments when she felt angry over the end of her marriage.
"That’s part of the grieving process," said Melinda. "You’re grieving a loss of something you thought you had and thought you had for a lifetime."
But these days, Melinda said, she feels like she’s "starting to get to the other side" on her "journey of healing."
"I don't question myself now, not at all," Melinda added. "I gave every single piece of myself to this marriage. Society used to put the things on women. It was our fault. No, I did nothing wrong, so I hold my head high."
In May 2021, Bill and Melinda Gates announced they were ending their 27-year marriage.
"We have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives," they said in a statement. "We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life."
The divorce was finalized in August 2021.
Gates was formerly the world’s richest person and his fortune is estimated at about $150 billion.
The pair met after Melinda began working at Microsoft as a product manager in 1987. The two were married in 1994 in Hawaii.
The Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the most influential private foundation in the world with an endowment worth about $50 billion. It has focused on global health and development and U.S. education issues since incorporating in 2000.
The two have said they will continue to work together as co-chairs of their foundation. However, if after two years Bill and Melinda decide they cannot continue in their roles, she will resign her positions as co-chair and trustee, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced.
"We certainly have a working relationship. I would say we’re friendly at this point. ‘Friends’ is a different word for me and that might come over time but for me there’s still healing that needs to happen," the philanthropist said. "Certainly, I wish him well I don’t wish him harm. I think we have a productive working relationship and I think that will continue."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.