SALT LAKE CITY — A suspect who is connected to at least two different sexual assaults was arrested and will be extradited to Utah after a sexual assault kit was tested and a case from 2008 was reopened.
The 2008 case was originally not referred to the Utah County Attorney's Office for screening and was closed by the lead detective.
In 2017, as part of the Sex Assault Kit Initiative, the kit was submitted for testing and in 2018, a DNA profile linked the Utah case to a sexual assault case in Ohio. In both cases, the suspect was a man named Nicholas Rossi.
"That’s why the Sex Assault Kit Initiative, which is funded by the federal government, Department of Justice, is so valuable because it allows jurisdictions to have evidence of sexual assault to enter into a database," said Utah County Attorney David Leavitt.
After working with the victim in the case, charges were filed against Rossi and investigators learned he had fled the country to avoid legal action in Ohio. Not only did he flee the United States, he also led investigators and state legislators to believe he had died.
"One of the problems that we have with tracking defendants, particularly sex perpetrators is that they skip from jurisdiction to jurisdiction," said Leavitt.
During the investigation, officials discovered Rossi was a suspect in other similar cases in Utah and around the country after the original 2008 incident.
With the help of multiple investigators from other states and agencies, Rossi was discovered to be living under an assumed name in Scotland and was taken into custody. The Utah County Attorney's Office is working to extradite him back to Utah.
“Our office is grateful for the significant interagency collaboration of law enforcement to bring this suspect to justice. We credit Utah’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant funded through the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance as playing a significant role in testing backlogged kits and ultimately identifying the suspect,” said Utah County Attorney, David Leavitt.
Officials encourage any person who may be a victim of a crime involving Rossi to reach out to Sex Assault Kit Initiative agents with the State Bureau of Investigation or the Utah County Attorney's Office.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual abuse, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673 or the online chat hotline at rainn.org/resources. Call 911 in an emergency situation.