The Associated Press
A man accused of faking his own death and fleeing the U.S. to avoid rape charges continued to deny he is the man identified in the case during an online court appearance from jail Tuesday.
Nicholas Rossi, 36, made the appearance after missing two January court dates with no explanation. After Utah 4th District Judge Derek Pullan in Provo cleared jail officials to use reasonable force to get him to show, Rossi made his initial appearance seated behind a green gas tank and wearing an oxygen mask.
Pullan asked Rossi if he had received the charging document accusing him of raping a 21-year-old woman in Orem, Utah, in 2008.
“I’m not Nicholas Rossi, for the record,” he responded in a rasping voice with a British accent. “But I have received the document.”
Rossi, whose legal name is Nicholas Alahverdian, has used several aliases and said he was an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight who never set foot on American soil. He did not elaborate on his identity Tuesday, and Pullan didn’t ask before setting his next court appearance for March 5.
Rossi was not identified as a suspect in the Orem rape for about a decade due to a backlog of DNA test kits at the Utah State Crime Lab. He also faces a felony charge in Salt Lake County, where prosecutors allege he raped a 26-year-old former girlfriend after an argument, also in 2008.
He faces multiple other complaints against him in Rhode Island and Ohio for alleged domestic violence, sexual abuse and fraud.
The American fugitive grew up in foster homes in Rhode Island and had returned to the state before allegedly faking his death and fleeing the country. An obituary published online claimed Rossi died Feb. 29, 2020, of late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Authorities and his former foster family doubted his death.
Rossi was arrested in Scotland in 2021 after being recognized at a Glasgow hospital during treatment for COVID-19. He lost an extradition appeal in the country in December.