Jeffrey Epstein's house manager says staff was instructed to 'see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing'
By Lauren del Valle, CNN
(CNN) -- The longtime house manager of Jeffrey Epstein's home in Palm Beach, Florida, read aloud from an instruction booklet Ghislaine Maxwell gave him in 2001 or 2002 that instructed staff in minute detail how to handle Epstein's homes.
"I'm sorry to say that it was very degrading to me. Most of the pages they were just unbelievable to me," Juan Alessi, the manager, testified in federal court Thursday.
The manual contained instructions for staff to maintain extreme discretion for Epstein, Maxwell and their guests.
"Remember that you see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing except to answer a question directed at you. Respect their privacy," Alessi read from the manual.
He took the rule as a warning to keep quiet about anything he saw.
"It means a kind of warning that I was supposed to be blind, deaf and dumb, to say nothing of their lives," he said.
"Unless otherwise instructed NEVER disclose Mr. Epstein or Ms. Maxwell's activities or whereabouts to anyone. If the caller is insistent you simply ask them to take a message, a time, a number where the caller can be reached. Do not be bullied and do not show any reaction or impatience. Simply be firm," Alessi read from the manual.
Alessi flew commercial once to Epstein's estate in New Mexico to attend a "symposium" with other Epstein staff about how to clean his houses, he said.
In Alessi's testimony Thursday, he explained what he witnessed while serving from 1991 to 2002 as the house manager of Epstein's estate in Palm Beach. Maxwell is charged with six counts, including sex trafficking of minors, in what prosecutors say was a scheme to lure and recruit underage girls for Epstein's sexual purposes.
The trial has also illuminated some of Epstein's connections to high-profile figures like Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew. None are alleged to have committed any wrongdoing in relation to the ongoing trial.
Epstein, who had pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019 but died by suicide in prison a month later. Maxwell, the British socialite and Epstein's close confidante, was arrested a year afterward and has pleaded not guilty.
In opening statements of her trial Monday, prosecutors said Maxwell and Epstein created a "pyramid scheme of abuse" to lure underage girls into sexual relationships with Epstein. Her defense, meanwhile, said she was a "scapegoat" for Epstein's actions and attacked the memories and motivations of the women who say they were sexually abused.
House manager says Maxwell ran Epstein's many properties
Alessi testified that he first met Maxwell in 1991 and understood her to be Epstein's girlfriend.
"From the day she came to the house, she right away took over and she mentioned to me that she was going to be the lady of the house and also, she was in charge of other homes," Alessi said in court.
Alessi said he dealt with Maxwell on a daily basis because all of Epstein's orders funneled to him through her.
Alessi testified he first got the house manager job with Epstein through a referral -- the mother of billionaire businessman Les Wexner was one of his maintenance clients, he said. Alessi's wife began working with him at the house around 1995 through 2002.
Alessi testified that his own relationship with Epstein deteriorated from "cordial" to strictly professional over the decade he worked for him, as he dealt with Epstein less and less.
Toward the end of his employment, Alessi said Maxwell told him, "Jeffrey doesn't like when you look at his eyes. You should never look at his eyes, just look at another part of the room and answer to him."
Maxwell was with Epstein "95 percent" of the time when he'd stay at the Palm Beach house, according to Alessi. He said Epstein would spend most weekends and all holidays at the Florida home, typically leaving on a Monday or Tuesday and returning Thursday or Friday.
Alessi and other house staff would prepare extensively for Epstein's return, he said, cleaning the house and cars, which had to be "immaculate." The staff would also stock all of Epstein's cars with $100 bills per instructions, Alessi said.
"They run the house like a five-star hotel," he said.
There were 'many, many, many females' there, manager says
Alessi said there were "many, many, many females" that came through Epstein's Palm Beach home during his time working there. When women sat by the pool they'd be topless 75% to 80% of the time hanging out with Maxwell and Epstein, he said.
He recalled specifically two girls coming to the house that he believed were underage: "Jane," who testified earlier this week that Maxwell and Epstein sexually abused her, and Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has previously accused Epstein of abuse.
Alessi recalled Jane coming to the house "at least three times" with her mother and several other times by herself. He testified that he personally picked her up more than once to bring her to Epstein's Palm Beach home and so did his wife. He once picked her up from the arts high school she attended locally.
He recalled "maybe twice" driving Jane with Epstein, Maxwell and others onto the airport tarmac and watching them board one of Epstein's planes.
Alessi testified that on a hot day he drove Maxwell around in a convertible to all the luxury spas and country clubs in Palm Beach County. He'd wait in the car for her at each stop including Mar-a-Lago. Maxwell told him to stop the car as they were driving out of the parking lot from Mar-a-Lago. She got out of the car and spoke to a young blonde in a white uniform that he later learned was Virginia Roberts.
He saw the girl again later that afternoon around 5 or 6 o'clock when she came to Epstein's Palm Beach house, Alessi said. Alessi walked her to Maxwell at her desk and did not see where they went or what they did after that, he testified.
He recalled driving Roberts onto the tarmac with Epstein, Maxwell, and others on more than one occasion. When asked how he knew that Roberts and the group got onto the plane, he said " 'Cause I brought them, I was the driver."
In addition, Alessi testified that Maxwell, Epstein or someone from Epstein's New York office would tell him to schedule a massage for Epstein and if the masseuse was available he'd let Maxwell or someone else know the appointment was confirmed.
"I went to my office and I had a Rolodex with all the massage therapists and whoever they told me to call, I would call .... It was all different times of day. It was a massage in the morning, massage in the afternoon, and some of the massages after dinner, after the movies. They were scheduled to come after the movies 10-11 o'clock at night."
Alessi testified that Epstein and Maxwell would go to the movies with others "almost every night" and sometimes he remembered Jane going with them.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca spent much of his cross examination Friday addressing excerpts from a deposition Alessi gave with a plaintiff's attorney representing Roberts at the time, among other Epstein accusers.
The back-and-forth was tense at times. Alessi, breathing heavily, appeared frustrated with Pagliuca, who asserted that Alessi may have sought out massage therapists for Epstein at luxury spas in the area. "Never," Alessi said.
The house manager maintained that he never sought out new massage therapists for Epstein but only called someone to make an appointment when explicitly directed by Epstein, Maxwell or another assistant.
Alessi also testified Friday that he never saw any behavior suggesting distress or fear from women coming to give Epstein a massage.
"No they never did, but I wish they could have done because I would have done something to stop it," Alessi said, when asked if anyone complained to him about being forced to do anything.
On a few occasions Epstein told Alessi to remove photos of Maxwell from around the house when she wasn't there and another woman would be coming over. Alessi testified that he didn't know Epstein's intention and wasn't told to keep it from Maxwell.
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.