An American man charged with rape in Utah has been extradited to the United States.
The fugitive was detained at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in December 2021 and claimed that he was an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight. In November 2023, the Edinburgh Sheriff Court ruled that the man claiming to be Knight is Nicholas Rossi.
“It is understood Rossi — also known in the U.S. as Nicholas Alahverdian — left on a private flight from Edinburgh Airport on Friday,” the BBC reported.
Rossi is charged with felony rape, according to court documents in Utah’s 4th Judicial District Court. This incident allegedly occurred in September 2008. Filings in Salt Lake’s 3rd District Court indicate that Rossi is charged with felony rape in Salt Lake County. This is a separate charge in relation to an incident that allegedly happened in December 2008.
Timothy Taylor, Deputy Utah County Attorney issued a statement confirming the extradition and indicating that Utah County will move forward with prosecution.
The Utah County Attorney’s Office has confirmed that Nicholas Rossi was extradited to the United States. On September 10, 2020, the Utah County Attorney’s Office filed a criminal Information charging Mr. Rossi with Rape, a first degree felony and a warrant was issued for Mr. Rossi’s arrest. Mr. Rossi was residing in Scotland at the time of the arrest warrant and authorities from the United States and Scotland have worked diligently over the past several years to extradite Mr. Rossi back to the United States. Now that Mr. Rossi has returned to the United States, the Utah County Attorney’s Office will move forward with the prosecution.
The Utah County Attorney’s Office acknowledges the tremendous efforts from the Department of Justice, United States Marshall’s Office, the Scottish authorities and many others to return Mr. Rossi back to the United States. Mr. Rossi is presumed innocent and will receive all of the due process rights that defendants are entitled to. The Fourth District Court has not yet scheduled an initial appearance for Mr. Rossi.
“This is part of an on-going process; the extradition makes Nicholas Rossi available to be held accountable for his alleged crime in Salt Lake County. Consistent with established legal principles, Mr. Rossi is presumed innocent of the charges until proven guilty in a court of law,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said in a statement.
Former Utah County Prosecutor David Leavitt — the attorney who initially pursued the Utah County case — said in a statement to the Deseret News, “I want to express my wholehearted respect and gratitude for police and court agencies across the world who have sought to assure justice is sought by sending this individual back to stand trial. Now it will be Utah County’s turn to stand up for these victims. The victims deserve no less, and the world will be watching.”
Prosecutors allege that during the investigation, the agent discovered that Rossi had alleged involvement “in criminal cases of sex assault, harassment and possible kidnapping in Rhode Island, Ohio, Utah and Massachusetts.”
“In each case, there is a consistent pattern of behavior, where the defendant will meet a female online, he will initially meet with them in public, eventually going somewhere alone with the female, and will initiate some inappropriate contact, leading the female to want to leave,” filings in Salt Lake’s 3rd District Court said.
An investigation allegedly revealed “that the defendant faked his own death and was located living in Scotland,” the court documents said.
The incidents of alleged rape both occurred in 2008, according to court documents. Years later, an obituary posted on or around Feb. 29, 2020, in Rhode Island described the death of Nicholas Alahverdian. Rhode Island authorities reportedly questioned whether or not he actually died.
“Authorities in Rhode Island have said Alahverdian is wanted there for failing to register as a sex offender, though his former lawyer there, Jeffrey Pine, told the AP earlier this year that the charge was dropped when he left the state,” The Associated Press reported. “The FBI has said he also faces fraud charges in Ohio, where he was convicted of sex-related charges in 2008.”
Rossi’s extradition was granted in September 2023 after Justice Secretary Angela Constance signed an order. He lost an appeal of the order in December 2023, the BBC reported.