A former housekeeper to Jeffrey Epstein has said that Ghislaine Maxwell told him never to look the disgraced financier in the eyes.
Juan Patricio Alessi, who worked at Epstein’s house in Palm Beach, Florida, testified before a New York jury on Thursday that Ms Maxwell was the "lady of the house" and gave him "many, many instructions".
He said that Ms Maxwell, 59, told him to "only speak to Mr Epstein when he asked questions" and demanded "extensive preparations" whenever Epstein visited.
Mr Alessi’s testimony came on day four of Ms Maxwell’s trial for sex trafficking in New York City, after a woman known only as "Jane" told the court that Ms Maxwell had been in the room when Epstein assaulted her.
Prosecutors accuse the British socialite, who was Epstein’s girlfriend for years, of preying on vulnerable young girls and luring them to massage rooms to be molested by him between 1994 and 2004. Ms Maxwell maintains her innocence of all charges.
Epstein himself was found dead in his cell at a federal jail in Manhattan in August 2019 while he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges. The death was ruled a suicide.
In court on Thursday, Mr Alessi corroborated some of Jane’s testimony, saying he had picked her up and driven her for Epstein and that the she looked at the time to be about 14 or 15 years old.
He said Epstein had received up to three massages a day – in the morning, in the afternoon, and after dinner. Jane had previously said that many of Epstein’s massages were pretexts for sexual assaults.
He also recalled the day he met Virginia Giuffre, then called Virginia Roberts, who has accused Prince Andrew of assaulting her after meeting her through Epstein and Ms Maxwell. Mr Alessi said she looked "young". The Duke strenuously denies the claims and is battling them in court
Asked about Ms Maxwell’s role in the Palm Beach house, Mr Alessi said: “I understood she was the lady of the house. She told me she was going to be the lady of the house...
“At the end of my stay, I was told [by Ms Maxwell] Jeffrey doesn’t like looking in his eyes so don’t look in his eyes. Just look at another part of the room and answer him.”
On the preparations for Epstein’s arrival, he said: “It was extensive preparations. It was very elaborate.
"From the cleaning of the house, to change the sheets in his room, changing the sheets in the guest rooms, to the shopping, taking care of the cars, making sure the cars were clean, make sure there were 100 dollar bills in the car. The house needed to be immaculate – like a five star hotel.”
At one point, he said, he was given a 58-page booklet with a lengthy checklist of tasks to maintain the house, part of a workload he described as "very degrading". He said he had told Ms Maxwell that he could not complete all of the tasks along with his other work, saying it was enough work for 10 men.
The instructions, which Mr Alessi read aloud for the court, included "see nothing. Say nothing", "do not discuss your personal problems with guests", and "respect their privacy". One bullet point said to "Never disclose" either of the couple’s "whereabouts or activities".
“I was supposed to be blind, deaf... to say nothing," Mr Alessi said.
He added that he was also told to check the perimeter fence for holes through which Max, Ms Maxwell’s Yorkshire Terrier, might escape.
The trial continues.
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