By Karen Freifeld and Luc Cohen NEW YORK (Reuters) -A former house manager at late financier Jeffrey Epstein’s Palm Beach estate said in court on Thursday that he recalled driving a woman who testified this week that Ghislaine Maxwell set her up for sexual abuse by Epstein when she was 14. Juan Alessi’s testimony comes […]
Ex-Epstein employee testifies he saw Maxwell accuser at Florida home
By Karen Freifeld and Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) -A former house manager at late financier Jeffrey Epstein’s Palm Beach estate said in court on Thursday that he recalled driving a woman who testified this week that Ghislaine Maxwell set her up for sexual abuse by Epstein when she was 14.
Juan Alessi’s testimony comes on the fourth day of Maxwell’s sex abuse trial in Manhattan federal court.
Alessi, who worked full-time for Epstein from 1991 to 2002, said the woman, known in court by the pseudonym Jane, appeared to be 14 or 15 years old when she first came to the Florida house with her mother in 1994. After that, Alessi said he would drive Jane alone to the home, where she spent time with Maxwell and Epstein.
Alessi’s recollections could bolster testimony that Jane gave earlier this week. Prosecutors say Maxwell recruited and groomed underage girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004 and participated in some of the sexual encounters.
Maxwell, 59, the daughter of late British media baron Robert Maxwell, has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of sex trafficking and other charges.
In eight hours of explicit, emotional testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jane testified that she had sexual encounters with Epstein between the ages of 14 and 16 at the Palm Beach home and at Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico. She said Maxwell participated in many of the encounters.
Alessi described Jane as “strikingly beautiful.” He said he once drove Jane, who was carrying luggage, from the Palm Beach home to an airport and watched her get on a plane with Epstein, Maxwell, and Maxwell’s dog, a small Yorkie named Max.
Maxwell’s lawyers say prosecutors are scapegoating her because Epstein is no longer alive. He killed himself at age 66 in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges.
Maxwell’s attorneys sought to highlight discrepancies between Jane’s testimony and her earlier interactions with law enforcement, in which she did not discuss Maxwell’s role.
They have argued the memories of Jane and three other accusers expected to testify in the case have become corrupted over time and that they have financial incentives to implicate Maxwell.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Luc Cohen in New York;Editing by Noeleen Walder, Grant McCool, Alistair Bell and Sandra Maler)