Guess who’s still claiming to be an Irish orphan named “Arthur Knight” and not a completely different guy who’s suspected of committing crimes in multiple jurisdictions? If you guessed “Nicholas Rossi” … well, I suppose I did put that information in the headline, but in any event, you are correct.
When we last saw the Suspect Formerly Known as Rossi, which was just 10 days ago, he was struggling with police at an airport in Scotland. Also with his pants, which had somehow fallen down around his ankles during the fracas. See “Former Fugitive Extradited, Briefly De-Trousered” (Jan. 9, 2024). This was the dramatic conclusion of his long-running effort to avoid extradition to the United States, where he is wanted by authorities in at least four states on charges of sexual assault. We first saw him here back in November 2022; links to the whole saga can be found in the January 9 post. It is quite a tale, largely because of his unwavering but also transparently ridiculous claims of mistaken identity.
Has he abandoned those claims now that they’ve failed to prevent his extradition? No. No, he has not.
On Tuesday, January 17, Rossi appeared before Judge Kimberly Hornak of Utah’s Third District Court, in what seems to have been his first court appearance since the extradition. Happily, he appeared by video link, and while I don’t understand why the Salt Lake Tribune hasn’t offered us a clip, the BBC has picked up the slack. That clip is worth the 2:05 it would cost you to watch it, in my opinion, but here are the lowlights.
Consistent with his many claims of poor health—in February 2020 he claimed he had just “weeks to live,” but is still hanging in there—Rossi appeared on Tuesday wearing an oxygen mask. And consistent with his many claims of mistaken identity, Rossi gave his name as “Arthur Knight.” (Actually, he gave the name “Arthur Knight Brown,” so either he’s used that full name before or he’s added a name, because why not.) He generally spoke without removing the mask, as if doing so might cause him to instantly die, but would occasionally remove it with no apparent ill effects. To the extent he did speak, it was ridiculous.
In addition to sticking with his fake name(s), Rossi also referred to the judge as “My Lady” or “My Ladyship,” presumably to suggest that as an Irish orphan, he is unaware that judges in the United States are typically referred to as “Your Honor.” That’s a thoughtful detail, but the problem is that judges in Ireland haven’t been called “My Lord” or “My Lady” in almost 20 years. See “Judges to lose their ‘lordships,’” Irish Examiner (Apr. 20, 2006) (“Judges will now be referred to as simply ‘Judge’ except for the Chief Justice and the President of the High Court, who will be referred to by their specific titles.”). It appears that these titles are still used for at least some judges in England, Wales, and Scotland, where the suspect most recently appeared, but they gave it up in Ireland, being less comfortable with lords and ladies there, according to the report. So this tends to further undermine the suspect’s claim that he grew up in Ireland, not that it really needs more undermining.
His “Irish” accent is also terrible, so there’s that too.
After listening to Rossi mumble for a while, prosecutor Tamara Basquez stepped in to inform the judge (who seems to have missed my previous coverage) that the individual before her had been extradited and had refused to give an accurate name or date of birth. “Objection, my Lady,” the individual broke in to say, “that is complete hearsay.” Maybe—hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted, and the prosecutor was essentially repeating what someone told her about the individual—but I think this particular hearsay would be admissible under the “public records” exception and possibly others. So like everything else Rossi says, this really doesn’t help him.
We almost got one more likely terrific argument from Rossi, but sadly, he didn’t quite finish it. After his hearsay objection, he continued: “And I would ask, your Ladyship, that the prosecution show cause for why…,” before trailing off into more mumbling in which the only understandable phrase was “Supreme Court.” I couldn’t tell which Supreme Court he was talking about, but I look forward to his appearance there regardless.