Nicholas Rossi no longer representing himself in Utah County rape case

After multiple delays due to Nicholas Rossi's inability to pay his chosen attorney for his Utah County case, he agreed on Tuesday to the appointment of a public defender.

After multiple delays due to Nicholas Rossi's inability to pay his chosen attorney for his Utah County case, he agreed on Tuesday to the appointment of a public defender. (Fourth District Court)


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PROVO — The case of a man accused in a United Kingdom court of faking his death to avoid a rape charge in Utah will finally move forward after Nicholas Rossi agreed to a Utah court appointing an attorney for him.

Rossi, whose case was delayed numerous times during and since his extradition from Scotland, appeared virtually on Tuesday from the Utah County Jail where he said he would take the advice of the judge and ask for a public defender to be appointed.

He had hired an attorney initially but was unable to get the money from his accounts in the U.K. to pay that attorney. Before the court determined he was eligible for a public defender, Rossi testified that he has no income, doesn't have property and estimated he had about $1,400 in his bank accounts.

A representative for the public defender office said it would not be prepared to move forward with a preliminary hearing on Friday, and a waiver hearing was scheduled for June 25.

Rossi, 36, is accused of raping a 21-year-old woman in Orem in 2008. He was named a suspect in 2018 after the Utah State Crime Lab identified him through a DNA rape kit. He was charged with the crime in 2020 while receiving treatment for COVID-19 at a United Kingdom hospital.

A Rhode Island obituary claimed that he died that year.

After his extradition earlier this year, Rossi continues to claim he is an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight, but United Kingdom courts ruled that DNA and tattoos identify him as Rossi. In August, a judge in Scotland called Rossi "as dishonest and deceitful as he is evasive and manipulative."

Rossi also faces a charge of rape, a first-degree felony, in Salt Lake County. That charge was filed more recently after Rossi's name made headlines and a woman came forward to police about an incident in 2008.

The next hearing in that case, a scheduling hearing, is planned for July 12. In that case, Rossi was already appointed a public defender.

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Emily Ashcraft joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.

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