US

Rape suspect who ‘faked death’ makes bizarre court appearance after UK extradition

A rape suspect accused of faking his own death has made a bizarre first appearance in a US court after being extradited from Scotland.

Nicholas Rossi was flown out of the UK a few weeks ago after a long-running court battle during which he claimed to be a victim of mistaken identity.

US officials accuse him of raping a woman in 2008 and say he faked his own death – even setting up his own memorial service – before fleeing to the UK.

Rossi spoke in an apparent English accent at a Utah court on Tuesday, referring to the judge as “m’lady” and saying claims he wasn’t giving his true name were “complete hearsay”.

He claimed he was Arthur Knight Brown and spoke in a laboured, breathy tone while taking air from an oxygen mask.

Rossi gave his birth date in British format, with the day first followed by the month – opposite to the US standard.

Rossi in July 2022
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Rossi, outside an Edinburgh court in 2022, is accused of rape in Utah

The 36-year-old was first arrested after someone recognised him when he was ill with COVID and taken to a Glasgow hospital in December 2021.

A year later, Edinburgh Sheriff Court ruled his tattoos and fingerprints matched those of Rossi – as featured on an Interpol wanted notice.

Rossi suggested they had been done by an NHS employee when he was unconscious as part of an attempt to frame him – and insisted he was an Irish orphan who had never been to America.

However, it emerged he had changed his name four times in three years and concocted a number of stories to hide from justice.

Nicholas Rossi departs Edinburgh Sheriff and Justice of the Peace Court after an extradition hearing. Rossi has been fighting extradition to the US over rape allegations. Picture date: Wednesday July 12, 2023.
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Rossi routinely appeared in court in Scotland in a wheelchair

Four years ago, Rossi told media in the state of Rhode Island he had non-Hodgkin lymphoma and had weeks to live. An online obituary later claimed he had died on 29 February 2020.

The case played out over a number of years in Scotland, with Rossi dismissing his legal teams and representing himself as he appeared in court in a wheelchair and oxygen mask.

Judge Norman McFadyen said he was “as dishonest and deceitful as he is evasive and manipulative” when he approved the extradition last summer.

He lost an appeal in December and was finally flown to the US at the start of this month.

Rossi will next appear in court in Utah on 26 January and was denied bail.

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