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A courtroom sketch of Ghislaine Maxwell during her sex abuse trial, in New York, on Dec. 3.JANE ROSENBERG/Reuters

Ghislaine Maxwell’s defence lawyers on Friday questioned a former Jeffrey Epstein employee about when he met a woman who testified earlier this week that the British socialite set her up for abuse by Mr. Epstein starting when she was 14 in 1994.

Juan Alessi, who worked full-time at Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach estate from 1991 to 2002, said at Ms. Maxwell’s sex-abuse trial in Manhattan federal court that he saw two girls who appeared underage spend time with Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell. He said one of those girls was Jane, the woman who testified this week.

Ms. Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of sex trafficking and other crimes. Prosecutors accuse Ms. Maxwell of recruiting and grooming underage girls for Mr. Epstein to abuse, and say she participated in some of the encounters.

Mr. Alessi said on Thursday he met Jane in 1994, the same year Jane said she met Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell and was first abused. He said Jane appeared to be 14 or 15 when he first saw her at the Florida property.

But upon cross-examination by the British socialite’s lawyer Jeffrey Pagliuca during the fifth day of testimony on Friday, Mr. Alessi said he could not recall precisely which year he met her in. Mr. Pagliuca then asked whether Alessi met Jane in 1998 or 2000 – when she could have been of legal age to consent.

“No, that’s not true,” Mr. Alessi said.

Mr. Pagliuca then referred to a 2016 deposition Mr. Alessi gave to a lawyer for Virginia Giuffre, who accuses Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein of trafficking her for sex while she was a teenager, in which Mr. Alessi said he recalled picking her up and driving her to Mr. Epstein’s house in 1998 or 1999.

Mr. Alessi replied that he could have been confusing Jane and Ms. Giuffre in the deposition. He said on Thursday that he recalled meeting Ms. Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, in approximately 2001.

Mr. Alessi’s account came after Jane, now in her early 40s, testified that she had regular sexual contact with Mr. Epstein while she was a teenager and that Ms. Maxwell took part in some encounters.

Jane is the first of four Maxwell accusers expected to testify in the trial. Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers questioned Jane about discrepancies between her testimony and earlier statements she made during interviews with law enforcement agents, and have said the women’s memories have become distorted over time.

Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers also argue she is being scapegoated for Mr. Epstein’s alleged crimes since the globe-trotting investor is no longer alive.

Mr. Epstein, a globe-trotting financier, killed himself in a Manhattan jail in 2019 at the age of 66 while awaiting trial on sex-abuse charges.

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