“Try and anticipate the needs of Mr. Epstein, Ms. Maxwell and their guests.” “Do not discuss personal problems with guests.” “Unobtrusive is the key.” “SMILE!” “NEVER disclose Mr. Epstein or Ms. Maxwell’s activities or whereabouts to anyone.”
“Remember that you see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing, except to answer a question directed at you. Respect their privacy.”
So read the “household manual” for late sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion. Its ominous commands were exposed on Thursday during the criminal trial of Epstein’s alleged accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell—who stands accused of grooming and abusing girls as young as 14 for him in the 1990s and early 2000s.
On Thursday, Epstein’s former butler Juan Alessi testified that Maxwell handed him the booklet in the last year of his employment and that “it was very degrading to me.”
Alessi called the employee document “unbelievable,” and said it contained instructions for staff on how to address Epstein and Maxwell (never with their hands in their pockets, never while chewing gum) and what they must wear—“Dark blue trousers with white golf shirts to be worn daily, long-sleeve white shirts for dinner service”—and not wear: “Avoid using strong perfume or aftershave lotion. This could cause an allergic reaction.”
“It was a warning,” Alessi testified. “I was supposed to be blind, deaf and dumb, to say nothing.”
On the stand, Alessi’s tone betrayed indignation as he recalled the booklet’s “many, many pages” and checklist that came with “an incredible amount of work.”
“I told her I would not do it,” Alessi said of Maxwell and what he considered her directives.
The checklist, according to the 58-page government exhibit, ordered staff to make sure a gun was placed in a bedside table drawer, shutters were closed, and that reading glasses, eye masks, and “Jeffrey Epstein large and small notepads” were on both bedside tables.
Alessi’s other duties included making breakfast at 5 a.m. and bathing Maxwell’s dog, a Yorkie named Max. When assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey asked Alessi why he was cooking food when Epstein had personal chefs, Alessi replied, “because the chefs have the privilege to sleep in.”
“Epstein ran the house like a five-star hotel, Alessi said, adding that the help was once flown to Epstein’s New Mexico ranch for a cleaning “symposium.”
Alessi testified that he saw “many, many, many females” visit the mansion and that most appeared to be “in their 20s.” He also saw female guests by the pool “hundreds of times.” These visitors would interact with both Maxwell and Epstein, he said.
But he also recognized two underage girls: Jane Doe and Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
The testimony of the 71-year-old ex-house manager, who was born in Ecuador, helped to bolster the government’s case.
Alessi testified that he met Jane—the pseudonym for Minor Victim-1 in Maxwell’s indictment—and knew she was a minor. The testimony is in contrast to that of Epstein’s longtime pilot, Larry Visoski who said he believed Jane was a “mature woman.”
The butler recalled meeting Jane at Epstein’s home the first time she visited with her mother. “I introduced them to Ms. Maxwell,” Alessi testified. “I don’t know exactly how old she was but she appeared to be young. I would say 14, 15.”
When Jane continued to visit Epstein’s home, Alessi was tasked with picking her up. Comey asked Alessi who had instructed him to fetch Jane, and he replied, “Either [Epstein] or Miss Maxwell.” Alessi said he once drove Jane, Epstein, Maxwell, and Max the Yorkie, to the airport.
In court, Alessi said Epstein and Maxwell relied on him to work around the clock but wouldn’t call him by his real name. “[Maxwell] called me John. Mr. Epstein called me John. But my name is Juan,” he testified.
He described driving Maxwell around to “luxury spas and country clubs” one day, in a tour that ended at former President Trump’s Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago. The butler then alleged that Maxwell spotted a teenage Virginia Roberts Giuffre and ordered him to pull over. “She told me, ‘John, stop!’” Alessi testified. “I stop the car and she open the door and she goes to talk to a girl coming down the ramp from the main gate toward the spa.” He said Maxwell briefly entered Mar-a-Lago with Giuffre, a victim of Epstein who was then working at the spa, and that he saw the teenager at Epstein’s home later that night.
He said he began to see Giuffre frequently though Maxwell never told him why the teen was at the house. (Giuffre has long claimed Epstein and Maxwell kept her as a “sex slave” and forced her into sex acts with powerful men around the world, including Britain’s Prince Andrew. The royal and Maxwell have adamantly denied her allegations.)
Alessi also had knowledge of key people in Epstein’s world: Maxwell’s assistant, Emmy Tayler, and Sarah Kellen, a personal assistant and scheduler for Epstein—both of whom have been accused of facilitating Epstein and Maxwell’s abuse of minors. (Tayler doesn’t appear to have commented publicly about Epstein and Maxwell. After Epstein’s death, Kellen has come forward through a spokesperson to say she was a victim, too. In 2019, the spokesperson said Kellen “continues to struggle with the trauma of her experiences and has chosen not to speak publicly at this time.”)
His duties included stocking all of Epstein’s vehicles with hundred-dollar bills and cleaning up Epstein’s massage rooms—and washing off sex toys once the “massage” sessions were over. “I remember finding a large dildo. It looked like a huge man’s penis with two heads,” Alessi testified, adding that he put his gloves on, ran it under the sink and returned it to its rightful place—into a wicker basket “the size of a garbage can” in Maxwell’s closet.
According to Alessi, Maxwell’s closet also held pornographic tapes and a black leather costume.
Asked whether he was instructed to buy supplies, Alessi said he didn’t recall buying massage oils or perfumes because “they were purchased by Ms. Maxwell.” Those oils allegedly included “all types of exotic oils… from other countries.”
When Alessi first began working for Epstein in 1990, the perverted financier had one “massage” a day; by the time Alessi left Epstein’s employ in 2002, that number was up to three daily “massage” sessions.
Alessi said he began working for Epstein after being referred by one of the money-manager’s friends “Mr. Meister.” (It’s unclear to whom Alessi was referring, but Epstein’s infamous address book contains an entry for hedge-fund manager Todd Meister and his father Robert.) At the time, Alessi was running his own company that managed and renovated the homes of wealthy people and testified that he’d even done work for the mother of Victoria’s Secret mogul Les Wexner, Epstein’s only known client for years.
Eventually, Epstein asked Alessi to work for him exclusively in Palm Beach and to ditch his other customers. The butler said he worked “many hours” for Epstein, usually from 5 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. and that “it was required by my position.” Alessi had a room in Epstein’s estate and later enlisted his wife to work for the financier, too.
Alessi said that when Maxwell entered Epstein’s life, he interacted with him “less and less” and took orders from the socialite instead. Among those array of edicts, Maxwell allegedly warned the houseman not to look into Epstein’s eyes when talking to him but to “just look at another part of the room and answer him.”
By 2002, Alessi said he couldn’t take it anymore. “I was sick … had a lot of pain,” he recalled.
“I was sick and I also was very, very tired of the job.”
Alessi quit and signed a separation agreement, which he says prohibited him from ever discussing Epstein’s life or Maxwell.
But he would return two years later—desperate, his marriage on the rocks, broke and having moved out of his family residence. “Somehow I got involved with another woman. Not romantically involved, but involved,” Alessi testified.
He said that he decided to sneak into Epstein’s lair through unlocked sliding doors, slipped into the “Lake Room,” the name for Epstein’s in-home office, and grabbed an envelope of cash—$6,300 to be exact.
“Who if anyone contacted you?” Comey asked.
“Only Mr. Epstein,” Alessi testified. “He says we need to talk.”
So Alessi spoke with Epstein for about a half-hour about family, about Epstein’s mother, and the financier confronted him about the theft. Epstein revealed a “very small picture showing my face inside the house,” Alessi said, apparently referring to security footage.
Epstein agreed to “loan” Alessi the cash and announced he wouldn’t press charges, so long as he paid the money back. Alessi said he reimbursed Epstein in full and got a receipt.
Comey asked if Alessi was ever interviewed by police regarding the incident, and Alessi replied, “Yes, by his [Epstein’s] request.”
Alessi never saw Epstein again.