Highlights From Day 5 of Ghislaine Maxwell’s Trial
The fifth day of testimony in the sex-trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell began with the cross-examination of a former household manager for Jeffrey Epstein and ended with evidence from an October 2005 search of Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach, Fla., property.
In a dramatic moment late Friday afternoon, prosecutors asked their witness, a former Palm Beach police officer, to identify a green massage table that had been seized from the second floor of the house and was unfolded in front of the courtroom.
And at the very end of the day, a sergeant from the Palm Beach Police Department introduced a photograph of a sex toy found in the 2005 search.
Ms. Maxwell, 59, is on trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan on charges that she helped Mr. Epstein, her longtime companion, to recruit, groom and ultimately abuse young girls. If convicted, she could face up to 70 years in prison.
Maxwell’s lawyers assailed a witness who stole from Epstein’s home.
Juan Alessi, a former household manager for Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach home, took the stand again after testifying Thursday about the strict rules Ms. Maxwell had imposed on Mr. Epstein’s staff and the sex toys he had found in Mr. Epstein’s massage rooms.
During his cross-examination Friday, one of Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers, Jeffrey S. Pagliuca, drilled into Mr. Alessi’s admission on Thursday that he had once stolen money from Mr. Epstein. In fact, Mr. Alessi had previously admitted to stealing a second time.
A heated exchange followed. But when confronted with a record of one of his older statements, in which he described taking money on two visits, Mr. Alessi replied, “I guess I did.”
Jurors got an up-close look at one of Mr. Epstein’s massage tables.
Near the end of the day, the government brought a large exhibit to the front of the courtroom. A prosecutor asked the witness — a retired Palm Beach police officer, Gregory Parkinson — to step down from the witness stand, put on black disposable gloves and identify it.
It was a folding green massage table from the second floor of Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach home, Mr. Parkinson said. He had previously described the table to the jury, since he had photographed it during the 2005 search. The jury also watched a video Mr. Parkinson took during the search.
An officer unfolded the table in the courtroom well, then refolded it. The table remained there, in front of the judge’s bench, for the rest of the afternoon.
The police saw photographs of “nude females” and seized a large sex toy in 2005.
The government’s last witness of the day was Sgt. Michael Dawson of the Palm Beach Police Department, who, as a detective, took part in the October 2005 search of Mr. Epstein’s home on El Brillo Way.
Among the items Sergeant Dawson found in the search was a large sex toy called the Twin Torpedo, he said. A photograph of the toy, in a box, was shown to the jury.
Asked if anything had “stood out” about the property, Mr. Dawson noted that some of the computers did not have accompanying towers. He also noted that the house was filled with photographs, including of “nude females,” some of which he found in closets.
The jury in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial watched a video on Friday afternoon that showed the house in Palm Beach, Fla., where Ms. Maxwell once shared a bedroom with the financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The video was recorded in 2005 by the Palm Beach Police Department when it executed a search warrant at the home. After watching it, the jurors got an in-person look at one of the items officers seized during that visit: a bright green, folding massage table found in a second-floor bathroom.
A former Palm Beach officer testified that an evidence label attached to the table, which was unfolded and set up in the courtroom, showed that it was the same one taken in 2005.
Massages and massage tables have been cited several times in the first week of Ms. Maxwell’s trial on sex trafficking and other charges.
A witness who testified under the name “Jane” said that when she was 14, Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein led her to a massage table and showed her how Mr. Epstein liked to be massaged. She added that Mr. Epstein used massage sessions as an occasion for sexual abuse. A former property manager at the Palm Beach home testified that Mr. Epstein had received massages as many as three times a day and had more than once left a large sex toy behind.
The former officer who identified the massage table, Gregory Parkinson, also testified that he had recorded the video in 2005.
Although the jurors were shown the footage, others in the courtroom, including reporters, were not permitted to view it. Judge Alison J. Nathan of Federal District Court in Manhattan admitted the video under seal to protect the privacy of people who may have appeared in it.
Earlier in the day, defense lawyers and prosecutors discussed in front of the judge photographs or images that were visible in the video, including at least one showing a partly clad girl.
While screening the video, a prosecutor paused it at times to ask Mr. Parkinson to identify for jurors sections of the house, including the “garden room” and the “lake room.” He offered few details about what, specifically, was visible in the video.
A few photographs were entered into evidence without being placed under seal. Those included pictures of a couch and chair upholstered in what appeared to be seersucker-like fabric, of a four-post bed with a white duvet positioned under recessed lighting in Mr. Epstein’s bedroom, and of the massage table.
Each day at her trial, Ghislaine Maxwell sits in the courtroom at the corner of two long tables, flanked by her legal team — no fewer than four lawyers, hailing from a range of backgrounds and law firms.
Jeffrey S. Pagliuca and Laura Menninger, two Colorado-based lawyers at the firm Haddon, Morgan and Foreman, have represented Ms. Maxwell for at least five years, including in civil litigation brought by women who accused Jeffrey Epstein, her longtime companion, of sexual abuse.
Christian Everdell, a partner in the New York office of the international law firm Cohen & Gresser, is an alumnus of the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, which is prosecuting Ms. Maxwell. During his decade-long tenure as a federal prosecutor, Mr. Everdell was part of the office’s terrorism and international narcotics unit and its complex frauds team.
As an assistant U.S. attorney, Mr. Everdell contributed to the Justice Department’s investigation of the drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, which led to Mr. Guzmán’s conviction in another district. (Mr. Everdell brought charges against leaders of a Colombian drug trafficking organization that worked closely with Mr. Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel, a partnership that figured in the case against Mr. Guzmán.)
Bobbi C. Sternheim, who delivered the defense’s opening statement on Monday, is a veteran criminal defense lawyer in New York whose clients have included one of Osama bin Laden’s earliest and most trusted aides, Khaled al-Fawwaz. In 2015, Mr. Fawwaz was convicted of participating in a global conspiracy to kill Americans and received a life sentence.
A former president of the New York Women’s Bar Association and counsel to the law firm Fasulo, Braverman & Di Maggio, Ms. Sternheim has represented defendants in organized crime and racketeering cases, according to the firm’s website. She has also been appointed numerous times by federal judges to represent defendants in cases eligible for the death penalty.
At the trial, Ms. Maxwell frequently passes notes to her lawyers and leans over to speak with them during breaks. At the close of each day, she sometimes embraces them.
The fifth day of testimony in the federal sex trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell began on Friday with a defense lawyer aggressively questioning Jeffrey Epstein’s former house manager, who a day earlier had described lurid scenes inside Mr. Epstein’s mansion in Palm Beach, Fla.
Ms. Maxwell is accused of helping Mr. Epstein abuse teenage girls, and the witness, Juan Alessi, described seeing two girls who appeared to be underage at the property with Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein.
But as soon as Mr. Alessi took the stand on Friday morning to be cross-examined, a defense lawyer, Jeffrey S. Pagliuca, sought to discredit him by portraying him as telling an incomplete story about stealing from his former employer.
During his testimony on Thursday, Mr. Alessi admitted to stealing from Mr. Epstein once. But on Friday, under intense questioning by Mr. Pagliuca, he admitted that in the past he had described stealing a second time.
“Is it true that you stole the money to pay for your girlfriend’s immigration papers?” Mr. Pagliuca asked.
“It was not my girlfriend, sir,” Mr. Alessi replied.
Mr. Pagliuca read aloud from law enforcement and court records what Mr. Alessi had previously said about stealing from Mr. Epstein.
Then Mr. Alessi conceded that he had previously described making two separate visits to the Palm Beach home and taking money both times. When Mr. Pagliuca confronted him with a record of one of his older statements and asked whether he had, in fact, said what that record indicated, Mr. Alessi replied, “I guess I did.”
The exchange was emblematic of how Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers have vigorously challenged testimony from the government’s main witnesses.
Prosecutors had called Mr. Alessi to the stand to describe the scene inside the home, where Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell shared a bedroom. Mr. Alessi said that while he worked there through the 1990s, “many, many, many females” showed up and it was routine for women to lounge topless by a pool.
And, Mr. Alessi testified, after one of Mr. Epstein’s many massage sessions — which he said took place behind closed doors as often as three times a day — he found a sizable sex toy, which he gingerly picked up and deposited into a wicker basket in a bathroom used by Ms. Maxwell.
He said that two girls who appeared to be underage, including one who testified under the name “Jane” that Mr. Epstein had begun sexually abusing her when she was 14, had also shown up on several occasions. Jane spent time with both Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell, according to Mr. Alessi, and both adults separately instructed him to pick Jane up in a car and bring her to the Palm Beach home.
Mr. Alessi’s testimony helped establish more firmly that Mr. Epstein had cultivated a sexualized atmosphere at his home, and bolstered the government’s case that, to him, massages were synonymous with sexual activity. An expert witness for the prosecution testified on Thursday that abusers commonly worked to “groom” victims by discussing sex, telling sexual jokes and engaging in massages.
The testimony by Mr. Alessi also supported the assertion that is at the heart of the prosecution’s case against Ms. Maxwell: that she was Mr. Epstein’s active partner in the repeated sexual abuse of girls whom she helped bring into his orbit.
She was born in France, reared in an English mansion, educated at Oxford. She spent decades dining with financiers, politicians and celebrities and hopping from Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion near Central Park to his lavish hideaways in Florida and the Virgin Islands.
It is perhaps no wonder that Ghislaine Maxwell finds life at the Metropolitan Detention Center, the hulking concrete federal jail on Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront, “intolerable,” as her lawyers described it in court papers; she has also called it “a living hell” and even, as her brother put it, “torture.”
But the judge in Ms. Maxwell’s trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges did not agree. Four times, Judge Alison J. Nathan of Federal District Court in Manhattan has denied bail requests — even when Ms. Maxwell offered collateral of $28.5 million.
“Ms. Maxwell poses a substantial actual risk of flight,” Judge Nathan said.
Ms. Maxwell holds passports from three countries, including France, which does not extradite citizens to the United States. And prosecutors have linked her to more than 15 bank accounts that, over four years, received more than $20 million from accounts associated with Mr. Epstein.
Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers say she “wants nothing more than to remain in this country to fight the allegations against her.”
Nearly every detail has been contested in bail proceedings, from her actions before her arrest in July 2020 to her protective-custody conditions at the jail.
Ms. Maxwell has complained of sewage leaks and of intrusive surveillance that her lawyer compared to the monitoring of Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs.” Prosecutors contend she lives better than other inmates, with her own shower, phone, TV and two computers.
Prosecutors also say that before her arrest, Ms. Maxwell hid in New England, eventually using cash to buy a 156-acre property in Bradford, N.H., veiling its ownership behind a corporation, telling a real estate agent she was a privacy-seeking journalist named Jen Marshall and then claiming falsely not to know the buyer.
Ms. Maxwell also used fake names to register her phone and order packages. She says she was hiding not from the authorities but from paparazzi, hackers and other threats.
Prosecutors countered that during her arrest, she ignored orders to open the door, fleeing to another room. Her lawyer replied that she was following security protocol, not looking for “some secret tunnel.”
The two sides have also clashed over Ms. Maxwell’s income and how recently she had contact with Mr. Epstein. Prosecutors summed up her claims as “implausible,” and for now, the judge has sided with them.
Before federal prosecutors charged Ghislaine Maxwell with sex trafficking and conspiracy, they had indicted her longtime companion, Jeffrey Epstein, on those charges, accusing him of trafficking dozens of girls, some as young as 14, and engaging in sex acts with them.
But Mr. Epstein never faced those charges in court. He died by suicide in jail on Aug. 10, 2019, 35 days after he was arrested. If convicted, he would have faced up to 45 years in prison for what the indictment said was a conspiracy to sexually exploit vulnerable girls.
Prosecutors contend that between 2002 and 2005, Mr. Epstein and his employees brought the girls to his mansion on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and his compound in Palm Beach, Fla. There, the indictment said, Mr. Epstein and others plied the girls with gifts and cash, pressured them to perform naked massages and sex acts and sent them out to recruit other girls.
Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers are seeking to portray her trial as, in effect, an attempt to prosecute her for Mr. Epstein’s crimes. But in bringing charges against her, prosecutors argued that she was central to the conspiracy Mr. Epstein was accused of.
Mr. Epstein, a financier and former schoolteacher who befriended wealthy executives, celebrities and politicians, had been investigated in Florida more than a decade earlier in connection with the sexual abuse of underage girls. But he struck a secret deal with prosecutors and was released after serving 13 months for state prostitution crimes.
The federal charges, filed in Manhattan in 2019, came after a series of articles in The Miami Herald explored the unusual deal in Florida and the sexual abuse allegations.
Since Mr. Epstein’s death, federal authorities appear to have had time to broaden the case. Ms. Maxwell, who was arrested in July 2020, is charged with a longer list of crimes than Mr. Epstein was, and they date back further, to 1994. Like him, she faces one count of sex trafficking of a minor. But while he faced one count of conspiracy, she faces three, involving four accusers.
She is also charged with enticing and transporting a minor to travel on numerous occasions from Florida to New York to engage in illegal sex acts.
If convicted, Ms. Maxwell, 59, could face at least as long a prison term as Mr. Epstein could have.
Ghislaine Maxwell controlled every detail of life inside Jeffrey Epstein’s Palm Beach estate, a former manager of the property, Juan Alessi, said Thursday during the fourth day of Ms. Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan.
Mr. Alessi, 71, said that he had worked at the estate from around 1990 to 2002. He testified that he had a “cordial” relationship with Mr. Epstein before Ms. Maxwell arrived. But after her arrival in the early 1990s, he said, that dynamic changed.
He said Ms. Maxwell instructed him on how to speak to Mr. Epstein: “Mr. Epstein doesn’t like to be looked at in his eyes,” Mr. Alessi said Ms. Maxwell told him. “‘Never look at his eyes, look in another part of the room and answer him.’”
Mr. Alessi said there was a “tremendous amount of instructions,” including how dishes were to be presented and how the table was to be set. There were rules about how the employees should dress and how they should address Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell, and guests.
Prosecutors said the rules of the house were documented in a 58-page “Household Manual.” Mr. Alessi, who left his job with Mr. Epstein before that version of the booklet was created, said he recognized most of it.
“Remember that you see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing except to answer a question direct to you,” one section of the booklet read. “Respect their privacy.”
Mr. Alessi said he took those instructions as “a kind of warning.”
Mr. Alessi said he remembered seeing two girls who appeared to be underage, including one, now an adult, who testified earlier in Ms. Maxwell’s trial using the name “Jane.”
He said he had first met Jane in 1994, and remembered the first time she visited the estate with her mother. “I don’t know exactly how old she was but she appeared to be young,” Mr. Alessi said. “I would say 14, 15.” (Earlier this week, Jane testified that she was 14 when she met Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell.)
He said he was instructed by Mr. Epstein or Ms. Maxwell to pick Jane up from either school or her home. He described Jane as a “strikingly beautiful girl” who was “very pleasant.” (Earlier this week, Jane testified that she remembered a Latin American man picking her up to visit Mr. Epstein; Mr. Alessi is from Ecuador.)
He said he only saw her interact with Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell, but he did not say that he saw any sexual contact between them.
Mr. Alessi said that Mr. Epstein received around one massage per day in the beginning of his employment, but toward the time he left the job, Mr. Epstein was receiving around three massages a day.
Jeffrey Epstein looms over nearly every aspect of the sex-trafficking trial of his former partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, but his suicide in a federal jail cell in Manhattan removed any possibility of hearing the evidence against him at trial.
Mr. Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correction Center at 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2019, while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges. The New York City medical examiner determined he had hanged himself with a bedsheet on a night when he was alone because his cellmate had been transferred.
His death in Manhattan set off a rash of unfounded conspiracy theories on social media that were picked up and repeated by high-profile figures, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. But investigations by the F.B.I. and the Justice Department’s Inspector General found no evidence of a conspiracy, proving Mr. Epstein’s death was a suicide, the Attorney General at the time, William P. Barr, later said.
It was not the first time he had tried to kill himself. A month earlier, after being denied bail on federal sex trafficking charges, Mr. Epstein was found unconscious in his jail cell with marks on his neck in what prison officials investigated as a suicide attempt.
The Friday morning before he died, thousands of documents from a civil suit had been released, providing lurid accounts accusing Mr. Epstein of sexually abusing scores of girls.
Investigations into the suicide found jail officials had made serious mistakes. Mr. Epstein was supposed to have been checked by the two guards in the protective housing unit every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed that night. One of the guards was not a full-fledged correction officer.
In addition, because of Mr. Epstein’s earlier attempted suicide, he was supposed to have had another inmate in his cell, officials said. But the jail had recently transferred his cellmate and allowed Mr. Epstein to be housed alone, a decision that also violated the jail’s procedures, the two officials said.
Two days after Mr. Epstein died, Mr. Barr said he “was appalled” by the suicide and sharply criticized the management of the jail. He ordered a full investigation. The warden was transferred.
The two guards, Michael Thomas and Tova Noel, were charged criminally with ignoring their duties and then lying about it. Prosecutors said the guards had been browsing the internet and napping rather than checking on Mr. Epstein every half-hour as they were supposed to the night he died. They were also accused of falsifying official logs, recording they had made the rounds. In May, they reached an agreement with prosecutors that allowed them to avoid prosecution and do community service.
This year, a trove of more than 2,000 pages of Federal Bureau of Prisons records obtained by The New York Times after filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit suggested Mr. Epstein had gone to lengths to persuade jail officials that he was not suicidal after the first apparent attempt to hang himself in July 2019.
The notes and reports compiled by those who interacted with Mr. Epstein during his 36 days of detention show how he repeatedly assured them he had much to live for, while also hinting that he was despondent. After the first attempt, for instance, Jeffrey Epstein said he was living a “wonderful life,” denying any thoughts of ending it, even as he sat on suicide watch.
“I have no interest in killing myself,” Mr. Epstein told a jailhouse psychologist. He was a “coward” and did not like pain, he explained. “I would not do that to myself.”
In recent weeks, the country has watched two gripping trials with wide social resonance unfold on television and computer screens.
Video broadcasts allowed an untold number of people to watch the trial and acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two people during a protest over a police shooting in Kenosha, Wis. A similarly large audience watched the trial and conviction of three white men in Georgia charged in the murder of a Black jogger, Ahmaud Arbery. In the past, such access would likely have required a seat inside a courtroom.
So why is Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial not equally accessible? The answer has to do with the difference in jurisdictions — federal court in the case of Ms. Maxwell, and county courts in the other two.
There are specific, sometimes arcane rules that govern federal proceedings. Though the federal judiciary has experimented with pilot programs allowing cameras in civil cases, the broadcast of criminal cases has been barred since 1946 under Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
By contrast, some state and county courts for decades have had latitude to allow trial broadcasts. For instance, in 1993, the Los Angeles County Superior Court let Court TV broadcast the trial of Erik and Lyle Menendez, brothers who used shotguns to kill their parents but claimed they did so in self-defense after years of sexual and psychological torture.
Vivid scenes with weeping defendants and dramatic cross-examinations helped create a cultlike following among some of those who tuned in. Soon afterward, Court TV and the E Channel both covered O.J. Simpson’s murder trial live from Los Angeles County. Those proceedings, too, drew devoted audiences.
But the televised trials also had their critics, who complained that the national audience encouraged lawyers, judges and witnesses to grandstand.
The first attempt to prosecute the Menendez brothers ended with jurors unable to agree on a verdict. The judge handling the case, Stanley M. Weisberg, believed that the television coverage had affected many potential jurors for the retrial and barred electronic coverage of the second trial to “protect the rights of the parties, the dignity of the court and assure the orderly conduct of the proceedings.”
In 1994, the U.S. Judicial Conference, which sets policy for federal courts, voted down a proposed amendment to Rule 53, which would have allowed cameras in criminal proceedings. The conference also rejected a similar proposal to allow the recording and broadcast of civil proceedings, concluding “the intimidating effect of cameras on some witnesses and jurors was cause for concern.”
People who want to keep track of legal proceedings remotely in federal cases in New York may have an easier time when verdicts are appealed. The Second Circuit, which hears appeals in New York State, as well as in Connecticut and Vermont, has a web page for the “livestream audio” of oral arguments. Those who tune in cannot watch what is happening inside the courtroom but can listen to what is being said.
Ghislaine Maxwell faces six counts in her federal trial, which relate to accusations that she facilitated the sexual exploitation of girls for her longtime companion, the disgraced financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The six counts center on the accounts of four accusers. The charges include:
One count of enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, in which Ms. Maxwell is accused of coercing one girl — identified as Minor Victim 1 in charging documents — to travel from Florida to New York, between 1994 and 1997, to engage in sex acts with Mr. Epstein.
One count of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in illegal sex acts, which accuses Ms. Maxwell of bringing the same girl from Florida to New York on numerous occasions.
One count of sex trafficking of a minor, which charges that between 2001 and 2004, Ms. Maxwell recruited, enticed and transported another girl — identified in the charges as Minor Victim 4 — to engage in at least one commercial sex act with Mr. Epstein.
And three counts of conspiracy, which are related to the other counts. The conspiracy counts in the indictment are more expansive, involving all four accusers and homes in the United States and in London. These charges involve accusations that Ms. Maxwell worked with Mr. Epstein to secure underage girls for sex acts, for example, by encouraging one to give Mr. Epstein massages in London between 1994 and 1995.
Ms. Maxwell, 59, could face a lengthy prison term if convicted. Conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors carries a maximum 40 year sentence; the other charges have maximum penalties of five or 10 years.
When Ms. Maxwell was arrested in July 2020, she was also charged with two counts of perjury, accusing her of lying under oath in 2016 during depositions for a lawsuit related to Mr. Epstein. In April, Judge Alison J. Nathan granted the defense’s request to sever the perjury counts, which will be tried separately.
The fourth day of testimony in the sex-trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell began with an expert witness describing how sexual abusers prepare, or “groom,” their prospective victims and concluded with an insider’s view of life at Jeffrey Epstein’s Palm Beach home.
That perspective was provided by Juan Alessi, 71, who said he had been a property manager at the Palm Beach home from about 1990 until 2002.
On the stand, Mr. Alessi read from a 58-page document titled “Household Manual” that listed ground rules for employees. Among other things, the manual told workers to “try to anticipate the needs of Mr. Epstein, Ms. Maxwell and their guests,” forbade them from discussing their personal problems with guests and instructed them: “Remember, that you see nothing, hear nothing say nothing except to answer a question direct to you. Respect their privacy.”
Mr. Alessi testified that he believed that section of the manual constituted “a kind a warning.”
“I was supposed to be blind and dumb,” he said. “To say nothing of their lives.”
Here are some takeaways from the trial.
A prosecution witness described how abusers “groom” child targets.
Dr. Lisa Rocchio, a clinical psychologist, testified that adults who sexually abuse children commonly engage in a process that can be thought of as having five basic steps: (1) selecting a victim, (2) obtaining access to and isolating the victim, (3) using “lies and deception and manipulation” to build “trust and attachment,” (4) desensitizing a victim to physical and sexual touching, and (5) maintaining control to coerce the victim into accepting continued abuse.
Dr. Rocchio said that “grooming” process could include giving gifts, building rapport through expressions of concern, bringing up sexual subjects in conversation and slowly escalating sexualized physical interactions with prospective victims.
The testimony offered jurors a way to link Maxwell to Epstein’s abuses.
Dr. Rocchio’s testimony was meant to bolster the government’s case by establishing that Ms. Maxwell played a key role in making girls vulnerable to Mr. Epstein.
The testimony dovetailed with the prosecution’s description of Ms. Maxwell in its opening statement: “The defendant took these girls on shopping trips, asked them about their lives, their schools, their families. She won their trust. She discussed sexual topics with them. She helped normalize abusive sexual conduct. She put them at ease and made them feel safe all so that they could be molested by a middle-aged man.”
A former employee at Epstein’s Palm Beach home detailed Maxwell’s pervasive control.
Mr. Alessi, who worked at the Palm Beach property for some 12 years, testified about the strict rules that Ms. Maxwell put in place there, from the placement of phone directories (always to the right of the telephones) to sharp limits on employees’ behavior.
Employees were never to look Mr. Epstein in the eye, even while answering a question from him, Mr. Alessi said. They were, however, to keep watch for any holes in the property fence that Ms. Maxwell’s Yorkie, Max, might escape through. (Max went everywhere with Ms. Maxwell, even on Mr. Epstein’s private jet. “The poor dog shake like crazy,” Mr. Alessi, who is from Ecuador, testified. “Because she didn’t like to be in the plane.”)
The employee recalled many young, topless women at the estate.
It was common for young women to visit Mr. Epstein in Palm Beach, Mr. Alessi said. “Many, many many females” showed up at the home, he testified, adding that most of them appeared to be in their 20s.
Women arrived to lounge by Mr. Epstein’s pool on hundreds of occasions, Mr. Alessi said. They were topless almost 80 percent of the time, he estimated.
Among those that visited the house were two girls who Mr. Alessi said appeared to be underage. One of them, now an adult, appeared on the stand earlier this week, identified only as “Jane.” She testified that Mr. Epstein had sexually abused her for years, starting when she was 14.
Mr. Alessi remembered Jane vividly. She was, he said on the stand, a “strikingly beautiful girl, beautiful eyes, long hair, long brunette hair, tall, very pleasant.”