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 He painted a picture for the jury of an employer who became more withdrawn over the years and who had strange requirements like avoiding eye contact and stocking cars with hundred-dollar bills.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.”
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.
Alessi will continue his testimony this afternoon.
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