The former house manager of Jeffrey Epstein's estate in Palm Beach, Florida, testified on Thursday that a "house manual" issued to him and other employees by Ghislaine Maxwell was "degrading" to him.
On the fourth day of Maxwell's criminal trial, Juan Alessi, 72, said he started working as a maintenance contractor for Epstein in 1990, and began serving as house manager for Epstein's Palm Beach estate in 1991. He met Maxwell, he said, that same year, and it became immediately clear that Maxwell has "many, many, many rules" for those involved in the management of Epstein's affairs.
Asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey if the rules were ever written down, Alessi testified that "yes, at the end of my stay I receive from Ms. Maxwell this booklet," containing standards for the upkeep of Epstein's home, "an incredible amount of work," he said, "enough work for ten people."
According to a 2005 edition of the "Household Manual" submitted to the court as evidence -- which Alessi testified looked like an updated version of one originally presented to him by Maxwell --- Epstein's staff was expected to attend to a painstakingly detailed list of chores and checklists.
Detailed among them were the extensive preparations for the arrival of Epstein, Maxwell, or any of their guests at the estate and what Alessi called 'degrading' rules and regulations outlining staff's language, appearance and general behavior.
The "Pre-Arrival Preparations Checkoff List" for the "Master Bedroom," for example, which Alessi testified Epstein and Maxwell typically slept in together, includes "JE and GM telephone directories placed to right of telephone" and "gun placed in bedside table drawer."
Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend and longtime associate, faces a six-count indictment for allegedly conspiring with and aiding Epstein in his sexual abuse of underage girls between 1994 and 2004. She has been held without bail since her arrest in July 2020 and has pleaded not guilty to the charges and proclaimed her innocence.
According to the manual, staff members were prohibited from eating, drinking and chewing gum in front of Epstein, Maxwell and their guests, and were urged to "avoid using strong perfume or aftershave lotion as "this could cause an allergic reaction." They were given a list of words "you do not say," which included "Yeah," "Sure," "No problem," "You bet," "Gotcha," "Right" and "I dunno." And they were instructed to that "items in pockets must not create a bulge or be visible," and advised to "not address Mr. Epstein, Ms. Maxwell and their guests with your hands in your pocket."
Under "Guest Pick-Up and Drop-Off," the manual outlines how to chauffeur guests from the airport to the estate.
"Keep conversation to a minimum," the manual instructs. "When you are driving Mr Epstein or Ms Maxwell, keep your hands on the wheel. Your cellular phones should be placed on 'vibrate.' At no time should you answer private calls."
Under "Grooming and Guest Relations," Epstein's staff is instructed that "[being] unobtrusive is key."
"Remember that you see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing, except to answer a question directed at you," the manual reads. "Respect their privacy. ... Do not discuss personal problems with guests."
Under "Answering the Telephone," the manual make it clear that that security is of paramount importance.
"Unless otherwise instructed, NEVER disclose Mr Epstein or Ms Maxwell's activities or whereabouts to anyone," the manual reads. "The security of the house and of Mr Epstein, Ms Maxwell and their guests, is your first consideration and should be uppermost in your consciousness."
During cross-examination on Friday, an attorney for Maxwell suggested in his questioning of Alessi that someone other than Maxwell had actually prepared the "Household Manual."
Defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca said, "Epstein hired a countess and she put together the manual," and then said to Alessi, "You know that they hired a countess to create the book?" Alessi answered, "I don't know that, sir."
Pagliuca then asked Alessi about whether he agreed with the book and whether he followed its instructions, and Alessi said that he did not.
"I did my chores. I did my work. I don't think I ever did the checks" in the manual.