tearful testimony | 

Jeffrey Epstein’s Driver ‘told by Ghislaine Maxwell to collect young girls’

Lawyer Sigrid McCawley and Teresa Helm arrive at court during the fourth day of the Ghislaine Maxwell trial in New York City. Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Lawyer Sigrid McCawley and Teresa Helm arrive at court during the fourth day of the Ghislaine Maxwell trial in New York City. Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Jamie Johnson and Josie Ensor

Ghislaine Maxwell told Jeffrey Epstein’s driver to collect girls he believed to be underage and drive them to the paedophile’s Palm Beach mansion, a New York court heard yesterday.

Juan Alessi, a housekeeper and driver for Epstein, said he was told to pick up an accuser known as Jane from her school and deliver her to Ms Maxwell.

Ms Maxwell is accused of trafficking minors, one of six charges she faces on trial in New York.

In a tearful testimony on Wednesday, Jane said she was sexually abused by Ms Maxwell and Epstein at the house when she was just 14 years old.

Mr Alessi also said that he picked up Virginia Roberts Giuffre and drove her to the house when she was aged “about 14 or 15”. Ms Giuffre says that she was trafficked by Epstein for sex and that she had intercourse with the Duke of York three times. The Duke denies the charges.

Ms Maxwell, the 59-year-old British socialite, has denied charges of trafficking minors, but Mr Alessi insisted that he picked up the young girls on her orders. The court also heard that Ms Maxwell and Epstein “constantly flew other girls” to the financier’s Palm Beach mansion.

Mr Alessi, who worked for Epstein between 1991 and 2002, described Ms Maxwell as Epstein’s girlfriend and said she was with him “95 per cent of the time,” and that they would spend “almost every weekend” in Palm Beach, jetting in on a Thursday or Friday and flying out on a Monday or Tuesday.

Mr Alessi said that Ms Maxwell introduced herself as “the lady of the house”.

Asked to describe who else was at the property, Mr Alessi said that his wife was also a staff member, while there were “other girls constantly flying with Ms Maxwell and Mr Epstein to the house”. Mr Alessi interacted with Ms Maxwell on “a daily basis,” he said, adding that she would call him John, even though his name was Juan.

Mr Alessi said that during his time working for Epstein he saw topless women lounging around the pool “hundreds of times”.

“There were many, many females,” he said. “Most of them appeared to be in their late 20s or 30s.”

Ms Maxwell, who wore a black rollneck top and black face mask in court, looked severe and rubbed her arms to try to warm herself up.

Before the session started she had a long conversation with her brother Kevin, who has flown from the UK to New York in a show of solidarity.

On Wednesday night, he expressed his “tremendous relief” at being able to see his sister in person for the first time in more than 500 days, but hit out at the jail conditions she is facing.

He said Ms Maxwell was “looking pretty well, notwithstanding the conditions of detention, which are now the subject of a formal complaint to the United Nations committee on arbitrary detention”.

Inside courtroom 318, Mr Alessi detailed a “hectic” routine in which he was sometimes given just a few hours notice that Epstein was flying in.

Mr Alessi said that there were “extensive preparations” which included changing the sheets in all the bedrooms, preparing food, cleaning the cars and making sure each one was left with a $100 note inside.

“It had to be immaculate. It was run like a five-star hotel,” Mr Alessi said.

Ms Maxwell has been accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl at the property, along with Epstein.

Outlining his relationship with Epstein, Mr Alessi said that it changed over time, and eventually Ms Maxwell told him that he should only speak to the financier when spoken to and never to make eye contact with him.

The trial continues.

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