UTAH (ABC4) – A man who was arrested in Scotland and allegedly faked his own death to escape a Utah rape charge from 2008 says he’s not the man authorities are looking for.
Utah officials say Nicholas Alahverdian, who also goes by the alias Nicholas Rossi, is a Rhode Island man who is wanted on several criminal charges including a 2008 rape charge out of Utah County.
Rossi was tracked down by a joint effort from the Utah County Attorney’s Office and the Utah Department of Public Safety — State Bureau of Investigation’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative. He was arrested in Jan. 2022 while in a hospital in Glasgow, Scotland.
But now the man at the center of the charges claims his identity has been mistaken.
In an interview with The BBC’s Steven Godden, the man says his name is actually Arthur Knight and he’s never stepped foot in America.
He appears in the interview while seated in a wheelchair and wearing an oxygen mask. His wife Miranda is seated beside him and produces a marriage certificate. Knight claims he doesn’t have a birth certificate because he was born in Ireland before moving to London as a teenager.
“U.S. authorities say that the story you’ve just told me is a load of rubbish and that you’re Nicholas Rossi,” Godden tells Knight.
“Then I would encourage them to prove it,” Knight replies. “I am Arthur Knight. Born Nicholas Brown. I am Arthur Knight Brown.”
Utah authorities claimed he had a multitude of aliases, all of which Knight says are “typos.”
Godden notes that authorities also used tattoos to positively identify Knight as the suspect. When the interviewer asks if he could show his left forearm, Knight claims he already provided a picture of his forearm. When Godden presses, asking if he could just roll up his sleeve, Knight refuses saying, “Honestly, I’m exhausted. It’s nothing personal, I’m just exhausted.”
Utah County Attorney David Leavitt says, “Once we determined that he was in a Scottish hospital then we were able to confirm through photographic confirmation and DNA that we had our man, so to speak. If he denies that he is wanted in Utah, then he’ll go through a process where we’ll have to demonstrate and satisfy the Scottish courts that he is that individual and that process could take a number of months.”
Knight claims his health has deteriorated since contracting COVID-19, but the local media had speculated that his wheelchair was a prop during his court appearances.
To prove it wasn’t a prop, Knight tries standing up during the interview as his wife forcibly props him up. His wife says she has to support his full weight as he is completely unable to stand on his own.
The BBC showed Knight’s interview to Nicholas Rossi’s uncle in Connecticut who arranged a memorial service after initially believing Knight had died of cancer.
“It came as a shock when I found out he was still alive,” Michael Alahverdian tells the BBC. “If that’s him.”
“I wish I could say that’s definitely Nicholas or that definitely isn’t Nicholas,” Alahverdian says of Knight. “There’s a slight resemblance, but the mannerisms and the weight kind of throw me off a bit.”
“Are you a rapist?” Godden asks Knight.
“No,” he replies. “I’m a lot of things. I have many flaws but to call me a rapist is so out of this world and unexpected that it’s almost comical that someone would call me that.
Knight’s full extradition hearing is scheduled for May.