Lady of the house Ghislaine Maxwell told staff not to look in Jeffrey Epsteins eyes

Ghislaine Maxwell: Socialite's sex trafficking trial opens

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British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of recruiting and grooming four underage girls for Jeffrey Epstein, told staff of the disgraced financier not to look in his eyes while they spoke to him, a court has heard.

The six-week trial, over alleged crimes that prosecutors said took place from 1994 to 2004, started on Monday, November 29 at a federal court in the Southern District of New York.

Testifying on Thursday, Juan Patricio Alessi, who worked as a housekeeper at Epstein’s Palm Beach house, told jurors he would have to conduct “extensive preparations” when he was told the financier would be arriving, and that Maxwell gave him “many, many instructions” beforehand.

Maxwell and Epstein were in a romantic relationship then.

Mr Alessi said of Maxwell: “I understood she was the lady of the house. She told me she was going to be the lady of the house.”

He testified Maxwell called him John, and when questioned on whether he was given instructions on how to speak to Epstein by her, he said: “Only that I was supposed to speak to Mr Epstein when he asked me questions.

“At the end of my stay, I was told 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.”

Taking to the witness box, Mr Alessi went into detail about the preparations for Epstein’s arrivals: “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.

“After three years working for him I brought my wife to help me.

“She would stay with me, and there were other girls flying with Mr Epstein and Ms Maxwell to the house.”

Under examination from Assistant United States Attorney Maurene Comey, Mr Alessi spoke of how his relationship with his boss changed over time. He said: “It went from being cordial to being more just professional.

“Our conversations became less and less and less.”

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These are the six charges in the full indictment against Maxwell:

  • Conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts
  • Enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts
  • Conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
  • Transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
  • Sex trafficking conspiracy
  • Sex trafficking of a minor

Maxwell is further alleged to have lied under oath by hiding her participation in Epstein’s offences during a separate civil case.

The defendant denies all charges.

She has been in a Brooklyn jail since her arrest in August last year, awaiting the ongoing trial.

Epstein was found dead in his prison cell in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. His death was ruled to be a suicide.

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