- An Edinburgh court ruled that a man arrested in Scotland is a US rape suspect who faked his own death.
- Nicholas Rossi was wanted on a rape charge in Utah but was then reported to have died of cancer.
- The court sheriff said his claims of mistaken identity were “implausible” and “fanciful.”
A man arrested in a Scottish hospital last year is an American rape suspect who fled the country and faked his own death, a court has ruled.
Nicholas Rossi, 35, was wanted on a charge of rape in Utah but was believed to have died until he went for treatment for a severe case of COVID-19 at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth university hospital.
He was going by the alias Arthur Knight and insisted that it was a case of mistaken identity, but an Edinburgh Sheriff’s Court judge has now ruled that he is, in fact, Rossi, Sky News reported.
Sheriff Norman McFadyen said: “I am ultimately satisfied on the balance of probabilities, by the evidence of fingerprint, photographic and tattoo evidence, taken together, supported by the evidence of changes of name, that Mr. Knight is indeed Nicholas Rossi, the person sought for extradition by the United States.”
The court sheriff added that Rossi’s claims that it was a case of mistaken identity were “implausible” and “fanciful” and said that his repeatedly changing his name was “highly suspicious.”
Since his arrest, Rossi has made a series of outlandish claims, including that his distinctive tattoos were put on him unknowingly while he was in a coma and that his fingerprints matched an Interpol warrant only because a hospital worker took them from him on the behalf of US prosecutors, Sky reported.
Rossi will in March face a hearing on his extradition to the US, Sky said, where he faces multiple allegations of rape and sexual assault.
He faces one extradition request from authorities over allegations that he raped a 21-year-old woman in Utah in 2008, and additional requests over another allegation of rape and sexual assault, according to the BBC.
He was previously convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in Ohio in 2008.
Over the course of three days, the court heard testimony from staff at the hospital where Rossi was treated for severe COVID last year as well as from police officers and fingerprint experts. All said that they believed that the man posing as Knight was, in fact, the fugitive Rossi.
When he was first arrested in January, he had assumed the disguise of an English professor, The Times of London reported.
His neighbors knew him as an eccentric, friendly academic with a formal English accent who frequently wore suits and a Panama hat to the bars where he would drink whiskey and go on political rants about Brexit, said The Times.
“For someone who was on the run, he really liked to draw attention to himself,” one of his neighbors told The Times.
Rossi gave evidence in his defense, as did his wife Miranda Knight, who said she did not believe her husband was Rossi, the BBC reported.
Rossi had attempted to convince the court he was an orphan from Ireland who had never been to the US, reported the Independent.ie.
Authorities allege that Rossi fled from the US and faked his own death to avoid prosecution.
Rossi, who had worked as a children’s welfare campaigner in Rhode Island, told US media outlets in 2019 that he had late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Several outlets reported that he had died in 2020. He even attempted to hold a fake memorial for himself, authorities claimed, per Sky News.
Rossi also went by multiple aliases, including Nicholas Alahverdian and Nicholas Alahverdian Rossi.