Nicholas Alahverdian – also known as Nicholas Rossi and Arthur Knight Brown – was extradited from Scotland earlier this month to criminal charges in the United States
But when the very-much-alive Alahverdian — who also allegedly goes by the alias Nicholas Rossi — appeared virtually in a Utah court Tuesday to face the rape charges, he told the judge in what appeared to be a British accent that he was not in fact the alleged rapist but rather a person named Arthur Knight Brown, KUTV reports.
He then proceeded to give Brown’s birth date, which was different from his own, and in accordance with British custom, gave the date beginning with the day, followed by the month and year, per the outlet.
When the prosecutor — who claimed Alahverdian went by at least 10 aliases — told the court that Alahverdian had denied his true name and birthdate since his extradition to Utah earlier this month for charges stemming from a 2008 rape, Alahverdian interrupted, the Associated Press reports.
“Objection, my lady, that is complete hearsay,” Alahverdian reportedly said.
The court hearing marked a significant milestone for a case that has involved many unexpected twists. About a decade after the alleged rape of a 21-year-old woman in Orem, Utah, Alahverdian was named as a suspect when the Utah State Crime Lab, pushing through a backlog of DNA kit tests, allegedly identified his genetic material on the test, the AP reports.
Then just months before rape charges were filed by former Utah County Prosecutor David O. Leavitt in August 2020, an obituary reported the death of “Nicholas Alahverdian” due to non-Hodgkin lymphoma on February 29, 2020.
On his purported death bed, he was surrounded by “Mrs. Alahverdian, their two children, and extended family” per the obituary, which claimed that his final words to close family were: “Fear not and run toward the bliss of the sun.” His ashes were reportedly scattered at sea.
But his former lawyer soon expressed doubt that Alahverdian was really dead.
Nearly two years passed before Alahverdian was arrested in Glasgow, Scotland, while being treated at a hospital there for Covid-19 in December 2021, per the AP.
At the time of his arrest, he allegedly claimed he was Arthur Knight, an Irish orphan, and that he had never been to the U.S., per the AP. He allegedly claimed that a National Health Service employee named Patrick taken his fingerprints and that authorities had given him identifying tattoos while he was in a coma so that he could be framed for the rape, per the radio station Leading Britain's Conversation. The AP previously reported that he had attended the Scottish court seated in a wheelchair with an oxygen mask covering his face and that he used a British accent.
Miranda Knight, his wife, also told the Scottish court in 2022 that she knew her husband as Nicholas Brown — the name on their marriage certificate, which she submitted to the court, per the BBC.
This summer, calling Alahverdian “as dishonest and deceitful as he is evasive and manipulative,” Judge Norman McFadyen of Edinburgh Sheriff Court, who had previously ruled that Alahverdian was in fact the fugitive sought by American prosecutors, agreed to their request for extradition, per the AP, and Alahverdian returned to Utah earlier this month.
Growing up in foster homes in Rhode Island, Alahverdian became a vocal critic of the state’s Department of Children, Youth and Families.
According to his fake obituary, Alahverdian began working as a state employee at the age of 14, around the time the obituary claimed he was abused in foster care. The obituary claims he later served as the “youngest lobbyist in Rhode Island history” before his 18th birthday.
But his true identity caught up with him fifteen years after the alleged rape.
At the hearing Tuesday, Alahverdian tuned into the court hearing from jail while wearing an oxygen mask which, per the AP, made it difficult for him to be understood. He alternated between wearing the mask and removing it to make himself audible.
Alahverdian, who has had multiple lawyers, appeared without a lawyer Tuesday. When the judge said a lawyer would be appointed for him, Alahverdian claimed he already had one but that the lawyer had not been made aware of the scheduled hearing, per the AP. It was not immediately clear the identity of that purported lawyer.
Alahverdian – who is now held in a Utah jail without the possibility of bail – has not entered a plea to the charges, per the AP. He is slated for a detention hearing January 26.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.
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