Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Man who faked death to avoid rape charge hospitalized in Scotland with COVID

Authorities said a Rhode Island man believed to have fled the US and faked his own death to avoid prosecution for rape and financial fraud has been arrested in Scotland after being hospitalized with COVID-19.

Nicholas Alahverdian, 34, who was a vocal critic of Rhode Island Child Protective Services after he said he was sexually abused in the state’s foster care system, is now facing extradition to the US to face charges of rape in Utah.

Alakhverdian was discovered after he developed a serious case of coronavirus and was placed on a ventilator at a hospital in Glasgow, Rhode Island State Police Major Robert Creamer told The Providence Journal this week.

Hospital staff confirmed his identity by comparing their patient to a photograph of Alakhverdyan provided by investigators, Utah District Attorney David Leavitt said, declining to provide details.

Alakhverdyan, who lived abroad under the assumed name Arthur Knight and worked under other aliases, was arrested by Scottish authorities on 13 December. On Friday, Leavitt said his office is providing foreign authorities with information about the risk of Alakhverdyan’s flight as the court weighs his bail. Alakhverdyan’s representative could not find a comment.

Court documents released Thursday in Utah show Alakhverdyan met the 21-year-old woman on MySpace in 2008 when he lived in Orem, Utah and went by the name Nicholas Rossi.

The woman said she ended the relationship, but Alakhverdyan owed her money, promised to return the money, and instead raped her in his apartment.

Leavitt’s office said the DNA evidence collected at the time was not tested until 2017 as part of the state’s efforts to clear the backlog of rape kits. Evidence returned as a match to an Ohio sexual assault case.

Alakhverdyan was convicted in 2008 on two sex-related charges after meeting a fellow student at Sinclair Community College in Dayton. Rhode Island State Police said Alakhverdyan is also wanted in their state for not registering as a sex offender.

The FBI said he was also wanted in Ohio on charges that he took out credit cards in his adoptive father’s name and accumulated more than $200,000 in debt.

Leavitt’s office did not comment Friday when asked if Alakhverdyan would also be charged with faking his death or evading arrest. Authorities noted that he spoke with FBI officials in Ohio by phone and email as early as December 2019, saying he was living in Ireland due to its extradition policy.

It is unclear if Alakhverdyan has a lawyer; An email asking for comment was sent to the Alakhverdian Family Office, which in 2020 sent a notice of his funeral and memorial service at a church in Providence, Rhode Island.

Alakhverdian has been an outspoken critic of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Family Affairs for years, testifying before state lawmakers about sexual abuse and torture in foster care.

In 2020, he told local media that he had advanced non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and only had a few weeks to live, according to The Journal.

An obituary posted online claimed he died on February 29, 2020, but by last year the Rhode Island State Police, Alakhverdyan’s former lawyer and former foster family were publicly questioning whether he had really died.

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