Who is Nicholas Rossi and what is he accused of?

Scottish ministers have approved the extradition of the US fugitive.

Lauren Gilmour
Thursday 05 October 2023 10:25 BST
Nicholas Rossi’s extradition to the United States has been approved by Scottish ministers (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Nicholas Rossi’s extradition to the United States has been approved by Scottish ministers (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Archive)

After a lengthy legal battle, rape suspect Nicholas Rossi will be extradited to the US to face charges.

The Scottish Government said on Thursday that Scottish ministers approved his extradition order on September 28, following a court ruling in August that there no barriers to his extradition.

Rossi was arrested at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow in December 2021, but he has consistently insisted that the authorities have the wrong man and he is in fact Irish orphan Arthur Knight.

Officials had to first prove he is the man wanted by US authorities, and after a five-day hearing in November 2022, Sheriff Normal McFadyen said: “I am ultimately satisfied on the balance of probabilities… that Mr Knight is indeed Nicholas Rossi, the person sought for extradition by the United States.”

Here, the PA news agency takes a closer look at the key questions surrounding the case:

– Who is Nicholas Rossi?

Nicholas Rossi was born as Nicholas Alahverdian in Providence, Rhode Island, in July 1987 to mother Diana Alahverdian and father Jack Alahverdian, according to reports in US newspaper The Providence Journal.

He was adopted by his stepfather David Rossi, and changed his surname to Rossi.

Rossi had a turbulent childhood and left his family home as a teenager, spending much of his adolescence in Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) care facilities.

He spoke out against the conditions in care, claiming to have suffered abuse and neglect and he made a name for himself by campaigning to improve facilities for children living in the state’s care.

In 2008, Rossi was convicted of sexually assaulting a student while attending a community college in Ohio. He was placed on the sex offenders register as a result.

Rossi claimed he had been diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in late 2019 and around this time, friends in the media and politics say they began receiving calls from him to say he was dying.

An obituary appeared online for Rossi in early 2020 saying he had died and that his ashes had been scattered at sea.

– What is Rossi accused of?

Rossi is wanted in the US for allegedly raping a woman in Utah in 2008 and also faces domestic abuse charges.

Authorities say he faked his own death in order to evade charges in the US.

– What happened next?

It is unclear when Rossi left the US for the UK, as he continues to insist he Irish orphan Arthur Knight.

Under the guise of Arthur Brown, Rossi is believed to have met his wife, Miranda Knight, in Bristol in 2019 and married her in early 2020, assuming the name Arthur Knight.

They moved to Glasgow shortly afterwards but in 2021, Rossi became so ill with Covid-19 that he had to be hospitalised at the city’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

– How was Rossi caught?

In July 2020, DNA allegedly linked him to a 2008 rape in Utah which is ultimately what led to his discovery in Scotland.

He was arrested on December 13, 2021 at the Glasgow hospital by police officers who served him with an Interpol red notice.

With the assistance of medical staff at the hospital, the patient initially named as Arthur Knight was identified as Rossi.

– What is Rossi’s version of events?

There has never been an official version of events from Rossi because he continues to insist he is Arthur Knight and that the authorities have the wrong man.

In court appearances, he has maintained his pained English accent, with an Irish lilt whenever he mentions the word Dublin, where he claims to have been born.

In his latest interview with The Times, as Arthur Knight, he said he wanted the “real” Rossi to come forward to “save my wife and me from this mess”.

– What is the extradition process?

Sheriff McFadyen ruled at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in August that there was no impediment to Rossi’s extradition back to the US, with the final decision lying with the Scottish ministers.

The Scottish Government revealed on Thursday in an answer to a Freedom of Information request that Scottish ministers had signed Rossi’s extradition order on September 28.

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