‘You should never look at his eyes’: Maxwell directed her staff to refrain from addressing Jeffrey Epstein in any way

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in New York in 2005. (Photo: Getty Images via Sydney Herald)

Ghislaine Maxwell was the "lady of the house" at the Palm Beach residence of now-deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein, a former house manager said Thursday in the British socialite's sex abuse trial in Manhattan federal court.

Juan Alessi, who worked full-time for Epstein, stated that Maxwell was "95 percent of the time at the property."

He stated that one of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, paid him "frequent visits" following their meeting at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club. Alessi stated that he was chauffeuring Maxwell when she instructed him to pull over to exit the vehicle and speak with Giuffre, who worked as a spa attendant.

Alessi stated that he occasionally picked up Giuffre, who now resides in Australia, or another accuser, "Jane," from their houses on Maxwell or Epstein's directions and brought the visitors to Maxwell at her desk.

Following that, he stated that it was "not my responsibility to ascertain their whereabouts."

He said Giuffre once brought her lover into the house, and Maxwell instructed the man to exit and wait in the car.

Alessi reported seeing "many, many, many" young adult female tourists in their late twenties, frequently reclining topless by the pool.

He worked at Epstein's massive residence from 1990 to 2002 — and admits that two years later, he returned to steal $US6300 in cash from Epstein's desk. He stated that Epstein confronted him about the theft and promised not to seek charges provided Alessi compensated him, which Alessi said he did.

Epstein committed suicide in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges stemming from allegations that he assaulted hundreds of minor girls in New York and Florida. The case against Maxwell derives from claims made by four now-adult women that she assisted him in victimizing them.

Giuffre's allegations, which include claims that Epstein and Maxwell trafficked her at the ages of 17 and 18, to other notable men, including Prince Andrew, who has denied it, are not part of the prosecution.

Maxwell, 59, the late British media magnate Robert Maxwell's daughter, has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of sex trafficking and other offenses. Her attorneys argue that prosecutors are pursuing her because they cannot prosecute Epstein.

Typically, the Associated Press does not identify persons who claim to be sexual assault victims unless they choose to share their tales publicly, as Giuffre has done.

Maxwell, a British socialite, was a former girlfriend and then an employee of Epstein. Prosecutors allege that she took the girls shopping and to the movies, conversed with them about their life, and urged them to accept financial assistance from him.

The woman identified as "Jane" testified this week that she had sexual interactions with Epstein at 14, with Maxwell present and occasionally participating. The government alleges that she also contributed to a sexualized atmosphere by discussing sex with the girls and encouraging them to massage Epstein. Maxwell's attorneys cited FBI documents stating that the woman provided a different account to the government in 2019; she questioned the materials' integrity.

Alessi depicted an imperious Maxwell announcing herself as "the lady of the house" and handing them a 58-page handbook containing regulations for workers on everything from how to address her and Epstein to the type of notepads to keep on their desks.

"Checklists will assist you in ensuring that each task is completed and that no detail is overlooked," the book advised employees, who were instructed to "try to anticipate" Epstein and Maxwell's needs and to "see nothing, hear nothing, and say nothing" except when spoken to.

"I was supposed to be blind, deaf, and deafeningly silent about their lives," Alessi, 71, explained.

Staff members were required to "run the house like a five-star hotel," keep Epstein's automobiles clean and stocked with $US100 notes for his weekend visits and avoid eye contact with him.

Maxwell, whom he referred to as "Mr Epstein's girlfriend," was mainly in charge of him.

"Jeffrey dislikes having his eyes looked at," Alessi recalled Maxwell telling him. "Simply look around the room and respond to him."

Alessi stated that she and Epstein referred to him as "John" rather than "Juan."

Earlier on Thursday, psychologist Lisa Rocchio testified that child sexual abusers frequently groom their victims by giving presents, establishing confidence, and progressively introducing more sexually charged words and touching.

Jane stated that Maxwell frequently took her to the movies and inquired about her partners. Rocchio's testimony may bolster the government's case that this was not an innocent act.

"When children are sexually abused, it is frequently not through physical force but rather through grooming and coercion within a relationship," Rocchio added, referring to grooming in general and not specifically to Maxwell.

Before the trial, Maxwell's attorneys unsuccessfully sought to exclude Rocchio's testimony, claiming it lacked sufficient scientific support.

Following her testimony, defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca claimed that some of the grooming behaviors Rocchio mentioned — such as providing gifts, taking children to special places, or paying them attention — could also be considered harmless.

He recalled, for instance, his grandfather taking him as a child to the Bronx Zoo.

"I'm assuming he wasn't taking you there for sexual abuse," she said, claiming that basic kindness does not constitute grooming "in the context of a healthy and normal relationship."

Alessi testified in a previous civil action against Maxwell that Maxwell often compiled a list of places to visit to recruit girls to massage Epstein, and he frequently drove her there, court papers show.

Jurors heard testimony earlier this week from a woman identified only as Jane who stated that Maxwell groomed her for abuse by Epstein in the mid-1990s when she was 14. Maxwell occasionally took part in those sexual sessions, touching her breasts, Jane stated.

Jane, one of four witnesses, slated to testify in the case, stated that the relationships frequently began with massages but quickly escalated.

Maxwell's attorneys sought to draw attention to anomalies between Jane's evidence and her prior meetings with law enforcement, during which she made no mention of Maxwell's role. They have contended that the accusers' memories have been tainted by time and have financial motives to incriminate Maxwell.

Publish : 2021-12-03 10:14:00

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