The uncle of a US rape suspect who was extradited from Scotland says he fears his nephew will follow the same pattern of denying his identity when he appears before Utah judges.
Michael Alahverdian told STV News he wants to apologise to all those hurt by his nephew, Nicholas Rossi, as he believes the 36-year-old will never say sorry himself.
After a two-year saga in the Scottish courts, Rossi was extradited back to the United States last Friday – a move his relative says has now turned what felt like a distant and surreal situation into reality.
Rossi, 36, had claimed he had been the victim of mistaken identity – telling courts he is an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight.
But a sheriff ruled he is the US fugitive Nicholas Rossi, and Scottish ministers signed an extradition order last September.
After being taken by US marshals from HMP Edinburgh, the rape suspect spent time as an inmate of Davis County Prison before being transferred to the Utah County Jail ahead of his next court date.
Rossi’s abrupt departure from Scotland after a lengthy legal battle came as a surprise to many – including his uncle in Connecticut.
“Now it’s a matter of ‘wow, this is real’,” Michael Alahverdian told STV News. “It’s not just something that is happening a few thousand miles away. This is right at home now.”
Mr Alahverdian says he at first struggled to believe the man arrested in Glasgow, claiming to be an Irish orphan called Arthur King, was his nephew.
His extradition was signed after judges in Edinburgh found Rossi to be a liar and a fantasist.
“I believe he will continue the same pattern,” added Mr Alahverdian. “I feel at this point that he feels once he admits he is Nicholas Rossi then the chips are going to fall.
“It has affected my family to a certain degree. In all honesty we are all embarrassed by it. I know my family, we don’t support him at all and the way he is acting.
“I would like to say that I do want to apologise to anyone who has been a victim of him. I hope that they do find some peace and they find the justice that they need and deserve.”
Rossi is accused of raping two women in Utah and of sexually assaulting another before fleeing across the Atlantic and faking his death.
Mr Alahverdian, who was last in contact with Rossi in 2017, believed his nephew was dead after an elaborate obituary was posted online in early 2020 saying he had died and that his ashes had been scattered at sea.
A year later, Mr Alahverdian had just returned from a memorial service for his brother – Rossi’s father – when he learned of the arrest in Scotland.
“The day I buried my brother, Jack, I came home and it was all over the news and I found out that Nick (Rossi) has been found alive. It was the same exact day. One regret is that my brother had really believed it and he suffered with that.
“He has got some problems ahead of him and that is what the courts are now for. It’s not for me to judge. If I had a face to face with him, I would tell him if you have done this, then admit to it and deal with it as a man.”
Confirming the first court appearance for January 23, the Utah County Attorney’s Office said Rossi is presumed innocent and will receive all of the due process rights that defendants are entitled to.
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