American fugitive Nicholas Rossi is arrested over 2017 rape in England ahead of his extradition to the US
A fantasus who faked his own death and fled to Britain in a failed attempt to escape rape charges in the US has been arrested over a rape in the UK.
Nicholas Rossi, 36, later pretended to be a terminally ill Irish orphan named Arthur Knight in his long-running battle to convince authorities he was not the man wanted in connection with a 2008 rape in Utah.
He donned an oxygen mask during court appearances and collapsed theatrically on top of his wife during one infamous TV interview, before DNA tests and distinctive tattoos proved his true identity in August.
The Scottish Government confirmed it had signed off on his extradition last week, but it looks set to be delayed after he was arrested by Essex Police on Wednesday over a suspected rape in 2017.
“Officers investigating a non-recent allegation of rape in Chelmsford, which was made to us in April 2022, have arrested a 36-year-old man,” a spokesman for the police force said.
He also faces several charges against him in Rhode Island for alleged domestic violence (pictured in 2008 in Utah)
Nicholas Rossi (pictured leaving court in July) is wanted by authorities in Utah for allegedly raping a woman in 2008
“After liaising with the appropriate authorities, Essex Police officers arrested the man this morning on suspicion of rape.”
Rossi – born Nicholas Alahverdian before changing his surname to that of his adoptive stepfather David Rossi – claimed he was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in late 2019 and told friends he was dying .
An obituary appeared online for Rossi in early 2020, stating that he had died and that his ashes had been scattered at sea.
But in 2021 he was arrested in a Covid hospital ward in Scotland, where he was registered as Arthur Knight, an Irish orphan, which he continues to insist is his real identity, claiming he never set foot sat on American soil.
He also spoke with an unconvincing accent in an infamous interview with NBC’s Dateline, in which he angrily denied his name was Rossi or Alahverdian, and collapsed theatrically in his wife’s arms after trying to stand in a bizarre attempt to prove that he cannot walk.
In August, a sheriff ruled that there was no bar to Rossi being extradited, following a series of hearings at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.
Sheriff Norman McFadyen branded Rossi ‘as dishonest and deceitful as he is evasive and manipulative’.
As well as Rossi’s claims that he is actually an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight, his claims about his medical conditions have also been refuted by expert witnesses.
David Rossi insists that this photo of his stepson, Nicholas Rossi, aged 13, outside a mental hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, in 2000, shows the same man who now claims to be an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight who in 2021 was arrested in Scotland.
A mugshot of the arrest of Nicholas Rossi by police in Massachusetts in 2010
Rossi appeared in court via video link in August after claiming to be unwell
Rossi was questioned with his wife, Miranda Knight, who he met in Bristol after fleeing to the UK to escape sexual assault allegations in the US
He repeatedly attended court in a wheelchair with an oxygen bottle and claimed the muscles in his legs had atrophied so badly he could not walk or support himself, but a doctor told the court his legs were ‘strong and athletic’.
On 5 October, the Scottish Government revealed in a Freedom of Information response that a decision in his case had been made in September.
It said: ‘The Scottish Ministers have made their decision on Mr Nicholas Rossi and signed an extradition order on 28 September 2023.’
During a week-long trial in June this year, Rossi wore what appeared to be a black legal gown and a yarmulke – a hat worn by Orthodox Jewish men.
When questioned in court about his dress, Rossi claimed the gown was actually called a bekishe, an overcoat also worn by Orthodox Jewish men.
He converted to Judaism while in HMP Edinburgh, where he has been held since 2022.
In his August ruling, Sheriff McFadyen said Rossi’s fraud ‘undoubtedly complicated and expanded what is ultimately a simple case’.
Rossi learned his fate at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on August 2, more than two years after he was arrested.
He had already been investigated over allegations of a rape in the UK, but the court decided to postpone a police interview until a decision on his extradition was confirmed.
In 2008, Rossi was convicted of sexually assaulting a student while attending a community college in Ohio. He was consequently placed on the sex offenders’ register.
The woman, Mary Grebinski, agreed to meet Rossi after he sent her a message on the social network MySpace.
Rossi said he was looking for a friend as he was ‘new to the area’.
At first she found him intelligent and charismatic, so agreed to accompany him to his next class.
But as they entered an empty stairwell, Rossi pushed her against a wall and began to masturbate, ejaculating on a wall before it crumpled into a heap.
Grebinski reported himself to the police and an Ohio court found him guilty of public indecency and sexual assault in March 2008.
Nicholas Rossi’s wife, Miranda Knight, arrives for a hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in June this year
Rossi (pictured in July last year) claimed it was a case of false identity and said he was an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight
Under the guise of Arthur Brown, Rossi reportedly met his wife, Miranda Knight, in Bristol in 2019 and married her in early 2020, taking the name Arthur Knight.
They moved to Glasgow soon after, but in 2021 Rossi became so ill with Covid that he had to be admitted to the city’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.
In July 2020, DNA allegedly linked him to a 2008 rape in Utah, which eventually led to his discovery in Scotland.
He was arrested at Glasgow Hospital on 13 December 2021 by police officers who served him with an Interpol red notice.
With the help of medical staff at the hospital, the patient initially named as Arthur Knight was identified as Rossi.
There has never been an official version of events from Rossi, as he continues to insist that 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 when he mentions the word Dublin, where he claims to have been born.
And he pleaded for the ‘real Nicholas Rossi’ to come forward to ‘save my wife and me from this mess’.
Previously, his stepfather David Rossi – an Engelbert Humperdinck impersonator – revealed an old photo of a scruffy teenager on a motorbike who, despite lacking a breathing aid and looking many kilos lighter, was a striking agreement with the man in court.
In an extended interview, he described his estranged stepson as ‘the spawn of the devil’ and said he was an ‘evil’ child who punched his mother and grandmother.
He told DailyMail.com: ‘He would do anything to hide from the law. The wheelchair, the mask. It’s bullshit. There is nothing wrong with him. Everything about him is Nicky.
‘My first impression of Nicky was that he had mental problems. He just got worse every day.
‘He would urinate in his brother’s bed just to get his brother in trouble. Jump out of windows and run away in his underwear.
‘(Rossi’s mother) Diana said that’s why you don’t get involved. But I stuck with it. I felt they needed a father.’
Rossi appeared in court via video link in August after claiming to be unwell and did not answer when asked if he was Rossi.
The lying American benefited from £40,600 to pay for his lawyers and barrister as he fought extradition.
Legal Aid is public funding given by the government, which enables people to access legal aid when they do not have enough money for a lawyer.
But David Spencer, from the Center for Crime Prevention, said: ‘Nicholas Rossi is a dangerous American criminal who has tried every trick in the book to evade justice for his heinous crimes.
‘That such a person should be entitled to tens of thousands of pounds of British taxpayers’ money to try and get off the hook is a damning indictment of a legal aid system that is fundamentally broken.
Efforts were made to allow more time for Rossi’s mental health to be assessed, but three medical witnesses, including psychiatrists Dr Kunal Choudhary and Dr Angela Cogan, as well as Rossi’s doctor at HMP Edinburgh, Dr Barbara Mundweil, said he had no signs of acute mental illness.
Dr Mundweil also questioned claims about Rossi’s health in general, telling the court she had ‘no major concerns’.
Rossi testified in his defense and said he considered going to the US to prove he was not Rossi.
A fellow prisoner, William King, gave evidence to the court in which he claimed Rossi was treated ‘abysmal’ at HMP Edinburgh.
In the closing speeches, Mr. Bovey said extradition to the US would be a ‘flagrant violation’ of Rossi’s human rights.
But deputy counsel Alan Cameron said there was no evidence Rossi suffered any condition that would be a barrier to his extradition.