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- American financier
As the first week of the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell continues, Juan Alessi, a former housekeeper and maintenance worker for Jeffrey Epstein took the stand to talk about his employment under Epstein and his working relationship with Maxwell, who is facing up to 80 years in prison for allegedly helping Epstein traffic underage girls for sexual abuse. (She’s pleaded not guilty to all charges.) He painted a picture for the jury of an employer who became more withdrawn over the years and who had strange requirements like avoiding eye contact and stocking cars with hundred-dollar bills.
Alessi worked for Epstein from 1991 until 2002, overseeing the cleaning, maintenance, and shopping for the house, as well as handling the gardeners and pool staff. He said he met Maxwell early on in his tenure there and that his instructions came primarily from her. “I understood she was the lady of the house,“ he said, describing Maxwell as “the girlfriend of Mr. Epstein,” when he met her and saying she told him that she was going to be “the lady of the house.”
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Alessi described a panicked process of preparing for Epstein’s arrival. He said Maxwell would give the staff notice ranging from a day to just a couple hours in advance. They’d fly into a flurry doing what he described as “extensive preparation”: cleaning the house, changing sheets in Epstein’s bedroom and all the guest rooms, doing the shopping, and making sure Epstein’s cars he kept at the property were stocked with cash — specifically “100-dollar bills in every car,” Alessi testified, adding that Maxwell and Epstein “ran the house like a five-star hotel.”
He also described a gradual change in his employer, Epstein. He said their relationship was “cordial” in the beginning, but shift to become increasingly “professional,” and the two of them had fewer and fewer in-person conversations. In the later years of his employment, Alessi said Maxwell told him only to speak with Epstein asked him questions and to avoid eye contact when he spoke to him. “You should never look at his eyes,” he recalled Maxwell said. “Just look at another part of the room and answer him.” In an affidavit unsealed earlier this year and reported by Insider, Alessi spoke about an elaborate messaging communication system Epstein used to make requests of his staff, routing written messages through his office in New York to Alessi rather than speaking to him in person in the house.
After lunch, Alessi spoke about the “many, many, many rules” of running Epstein‘s Palm Beach home, from how to present the dining table to how the staff should dress to how they should address Epstein and Maxwell. He said he received a booklet of instructions from Maxwell at one point, which he found “degrading.” Prosecutors shared a 58 page household manual from Epstein’s Palm Beach residence, which included directives like, “See nothing, hear nothing, say nothing, except to answer a question directed at you.” Alessi said he’d felt he was supposed to be “blind, deaf, and dumb.” He left in 2002 because he was suffering from an illness and, he said, he was “very, very tired of the job.” (He also admitted to stealing $6,300 from Epstein after he quit — an act he described as “the greatest mistake” of his life — which the defense will presumably dig into tomorrow.)Epstein’s much-discussed black book made its courtroom debut as a sealed exhibit. Alessi, who had been in charge of placing the address book by the phone as part of preparing the house, said he recognized the cover and binding and some of the contacts it contained, but noted it was thinner and printed with smaller font than when he worked there. The defense countered that this means the book could have been tampered with.Early in his employment at Epstein‘s house, Alessi said Epstein would receive a massage a day. By the time he left, he said that number had increased to three times a day. He said massage appointments were booked from a Rolodex of contacts by Maxwell, himself, assistant Sarah Kellen, or other staff for mornings, afternoons, and nights as late as 10:00 or 11:00. He said he’d call people he understood to be massage therapists, ask if they were available at a given time, and then tell them to come. He testified that he had found a “large dildo” on a few occasions while cleaning up the massage table and putting away massage oils after a session. “It looked like a huge man’s penis, with two heads,” he said. Alessi said he had returned the sex toy to a basket in Maxwell’s closet where he knew it was kept. “I knew everything that happened in that house,” he said.Alessi also spoke compellingly about seeing two girls at Epstein‘s Palm Beach Home whom he thought appeared to be under age: the witness known as Jane, and public Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts, who is not scheduled to testify in this trial. He said each looked about 14 or 15 when he met them. “She was a striking, beautiful girl,” he said of Jane. “Beautiful eyes, long brunette hair, tall, very pleasant.” He said he’d welcomed both girls to the house on various occasions, and that he’d bring them to Ghislaine’s desk on the ground floor when they arrived. He also said Jane had been in the Rolodex of massage therapists he consulted to book appointments. Notably, he also testified that he had, on separate occasions, driven each girl with Epstein and Maxwell to the airport and onto the tarmac. He said he’d watched each girl board Epstein‘s private plane with Maxwell and Epstein.Defense will begin its cross-examination of Alessi Friday morning.
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