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Man accused of rape in Utah then faking own death in Rhode Island claims it's not him

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Posted at 4:29 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 18:56:20-04

GLASGOW, Scotland — A man accused of raping a woman in 2008 in Utah and faking his own death in 2020, who was reportedly found alive a few months ago in Scotland, says authorities have the wrong man.

Nicholas Rossi was identified as the suspect in the 2008 rape case in Orem after the sexual assault kit was tested in 2017. His DNA was also linked to a sexual assault case in Ohio. Investigators said they also found that he was connected to previous police reports of sexual assault, harassment and "possible kidnapping" from 2007 to 2019 in Utah, Ohio, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

He was charged with rape by the Utah County Attorney's Office in September 2020. At the time, prosecutors said they did not know where Rossi was. An FBI agent in Ohio said he spoke to him over the phone in December 2019, and he said at the time that he was living in Ireland because there was a non-extradition treaty.

The office of Utah County Attorney David Leavitt announced in January that Rossi had been found in Scotland, living under the name Arthur Knight. Prosecutors said he had faked his death in February 2020.

The man believed to be Rossi was taken into police custody and is facing extradition to the United States.

But in a recent interview with BBC in Glasgow, Knight claimed he is not the accused rapist.

He provided a marriage certificate from his wedding in February 2020 in Bristol, England, to Miranda Knight.

But he had no birth certificate because he was adopted in Ireland before moving to London as a teenager, he told BBC Scotland reporter Steven Godden.

Godden told Knight that his story was "dismissed as a load of rubbish" by U.S. authorities.

"Then I would invite them to prove it," Knight responded.

But Leavitt says they do have proof that Knight is Rossi, and that his identity was confirmed at the time of his arrest through photographs and DNA.

"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," Leavitt said, according to the BBC. "That process could take a number of months."

Leavitt also said DNA and fingerprints were provided to Interpol "as part of supporting evidence for extradition."

The BBC reports that in a hearing last month, a prosecutor in the U.K. said police and hospital staff also identified Knight as Rossi from his tattoos.

"That's not true," Knight said in the interview, but refused to show his forearm. "Honestly, I'm exhausted."

The interview can be watched below or on the BBC Scotland website.

A full extradition hearing is scheduled for May.