A cache of documents offers disturbing testimony about what happened inside the Florida mansion owned by Jeffrey Epstein.
A rotating cast of girls would sit around Jeffrey Epstein’s waterfront mansion, drinking milk.
To Alfredo Rodriguez, Mr. Epstein’s butler in the mid-2000s, that was one reason he suspected that his boss was engaged in sexual activities with underage girls. At times, Mr. Rodriguez later told a Florida police detective in a sworn statement, he was instructed to dispense hundreds of dollars to the girls after they performed massages for Mr. Epstein; at other times, Mr. Rodriguez gave them “tips” in the form of iPods and jewelry.
Manhattan federal prosecutors last month charged Mr. Epstein, 66, with sex trafficking of girls as young as 14, and details of his behavior have been emerging for years.
But a cache of previously sealed legal documents, released on Friday by a federal appeals court, provides new, disturbing details about what was going on inside Mr. Epstein’s homes and how his associates recruited young women and girls, including from a Florida high school.
The documents — among the most expansive sets of materials publicly disclosed in the 13 years since Mr. Epstein was first charged with sex crimes — include depositions, police incident reports, photographs, receipts, flight logs and even a memoir written by a woman who says she was a sex-trafficking victim of Mr. Epstein and his acquaintances.
The documents were filed as part of a defamation lawsuit in federal court that Virginia Giuffre brought in 2015 against Ghislaine Maxwell, Mr. Epstein’s longtime companion and confidant. Ms. Giuffre and Ms. Maxwell settled the lawsuit shortly before the trial was to begin in 2017.
The Miami Herald and other media outlets petitioned the court to have the lawsuit documents unsealed. The request was initially denied, but an appeals court ordered them released last month, just days before Mr. Epstein was arrested on sex-trafficking charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
Mr. Epstein, a financier with opulent homes, a private jet and access to elite circles, had been dogged for decades by accusations that he had paid dozens of girls for sexual acts in Florida. He previously avoided federal criminal charges in 2008 after prosecutors brokered a widely criticized deal that allowed him to plea to solicitation of prostitution from a minor and serve 13 months in jail.
About 2,000 pages of the materials were posted online by the appeals court on Friday, providing a high-definition glimpse inside what federal prosecutors have said was Mr. Epstein’s long-running sex-trafficking operation.
The fullest account is provided by Ms. Giuffre, who claims that Mr. Epstein forced her into being a “sex slave.”
In a sworn deposition, she said she first met Ms. Maxwell, the daughter of the British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, and Mr. Epstein in the summer of 2000, when she was 16. At the time, Ms. Giuffre was working as a masseuse at the spa at Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, where her father was a maintenance worker.
She said she was sitting outside the locker room, reading a book on massage therapy, when Ms. Maxwell approached her. She said she knew someone who was looking for a traveling masseuse. “If the guy likes you, then, you know, it will work out for you. You’ll travel. You’ll make good money. You’ll be educated,” Ms. Giuffre recalled Ms. Maxwell telling her.
Ms. Giuffre took the job. Ms. Maxwell trained her on how to give erotic massages, and Ms. Giuffre soon began providing them to Mr. Epstein at his mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. Before long, she said, she was being flown on Mr. Epstein’s private Gulfstream jet to perform sexual services on Mr. Epstein’s acquaintances, including politicians and high-powered businessmen.
The word “massage” became code for “sex,” she said in the 2016 deposition. “My whole life revolved around just pleasing these men and keeping Ghislaine and Jeffrey happy,” she said. “Their whole entire lives revolved around sex. They call massages sex. They call modeling sex.”
Ms. Maxwell’s depositions provide, for the first time, a glimpse at her perspective. She denounced Ms. Giuffre, saying that “everything Virginia has said is an absolute lie.” Lawyers for Ms. Maxwell were out of the country and unavailable for comment on Friday, their office said.
In court papers, the lawyers painted Ms. Giuffre as a troubled woman with a history of substance abuse and a turbulent personal life. They said her allegations shifted and became more lurid as she sought to sell her story to the media and publishers.
Ms. Giuffre had said she wrote her recollections of her experiences in a journal, but burned it in a bonfire that she and her husband built in their Titusville, Fla., backyard in 2013, according to court papers.
Back at Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach home, partially shielded from view by a large hedge, it was hard for workers to miss what was happening.
John Alessi, a maintenance worker there from 1990 until about 2001, said he saw about 100 female masseuses at various times in the house.
After massages, Mr. Alessi said in a deposition, he occasionally found sex toys in Ms. Maxwell’s bathroom in the mansion. He said he put gloves on, rinsed the instruments and placed them in a closet.
Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Epstein’s butler, had a similar recollection. In July 2006, he told a Palm Beach police detective in a sworn statement that after girls gave massages to Mr. Epstein, Mr. Rodriguez would go into his bedroom to wipe down vibrators and sex toys and then stash them in a wooden armoire near Mr. Epstein’s bed.
On occasion, Mr. Alessi said, he drove Ms. Maxwell from one Palm Beach spa to another, where she left her business cards in order to recruit massage therapists for Mr. Epstein.
Ms. Maxwell recruited Johanna Sjoberg in 2001 on the campus of Palm Beach Atlantic College, where she was a student. Ms. Sjoberg said in a deposition that Ms. Maxwell dangled a job as a personal assistant. She figured she could make some quick money answering phones for Mr. Epstein.
But that was not what the job entailed. Once at Mr. Epstein’s mansion, Ms. Sjoberg said, she was told to perform sexual massages on Mr. Epstein — and was punished when he did not have an orgasm.
Around the mansion, massage tables were ubiquitous, even in outdoor spaces and in guest rooms, where Mr. Epstein would send women to service houseguests. “A massage was like a treat for all the guests at Mr. Epstein’s home,” Mr. Alessi said in an affidavit.
Mr. Rodriguez, the butler, told a Palm Beach police detective, Joseph Recarey, that he suspected the girls were underage in part because their eating habits reminded him of his daughter, who was in high school.
“Rodriguez stated they would eat tons of cereal and drink milk all the time,” according to a report Detective Recarey filed. Mr. Rodriguez died in 2015.
Also among the unsealed materials was an Amazon shipping document that shows a book on “erotic servitude” and a “Workbook for Erotic Slaves and Their Owners,” both of which were delivered to Mr. Epstein at his Palm Beach home.
Lawyers for Mr. Epstein did not respond to requests for comment.
The documents traced the investigation conducted by the Palm Beach Police Department, led by Detective Recarey. With the help of the local sanitation department, investigators sifted through Mr. Epstein’s trash, which yielded written phone messages, sometimes leading the police to potential victims.
Detective Recarey, who retired in 2013 after more than two decades on the force, said in a 2016 deposition that he interviewed about 30 girls who were sought to give massages. Some of the girls were terrified and tearful as he interviewed them.
A number of the girls, including one who was 15 at the time, said they were brought to Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach house and told they could make money by modeling lingerie for him, according to reports that Detective Recarey filed and that were unsealed.
Once at the mansion, a chef would prepare the girls a meal. Then they would be escorted upstairs to the master bedroom. Mr. Epstein, clad in a towel, often would request a massage of his feet and calves. He would touch the girls while masturbating under his towel. They were generally paid $200 per visit.
Mr. Rodriguez told Detective Recarey, who died last year, that he was a “human A.T.M.,” required to always have at least $2,000 on hand to pay the women and girls. Once, Mr. Epstein instructed him to deliver a dozen roses to one of the girls at her high school after a drama performance.