The Absolute State of Nicholas Alahverdian

This week, footage emerged of American sex offender Nicholas Alahverdian (also known as Nicholas Rossi) putting on a comically bad performance as a British and Irish man named Arthur Knight - at least it might be funny, if he wasn’t, you know, a convicted sex offender, domestic abuser and alleged rapist.

nicholas alahverdian nicholas rossi arthur knight

Nicholas Alahverdian, a Harvard graduate who grew up in foster care and became a vocal critic of Rhode Island’s childcare system, has died of Hodgin’s Lymphoma. 

Alahverdian was 32 years old. His life, tragically cut short by cancer, was defined by the sexual abuse he suffered as a child. However, Alahverdian did not let the trauma define him, campaigning tirelessly for reform. “He lived a warrior’s life,” his obituary reads. “A fighter in spirit, but a peacemaker in practice.” 

Postumuthously, Alahverdian’s fight for peace has been rewarded, with Rep. Ray Hull filing a resolution in honour of Alahverdian calling for the creation of a House oversight commission to investigate the treatment of children in state care.

He leaves behind a wife and two young children.

nicholas alahverdian nicholas rossi arthur knight

Nicholas Alahverdian back in 2011

You’ve got to hand it to the fella. If you’re going to fake your own death, it’s not a bad story to spin. It’s a lovely obituary he wrote for himself, as well as a little pastel mural to remember him by. The supposed tragedy transpired back in 2020 and was covered by the Associated Press and NBC News. All the while, Nicholas Alahverdian was alive and kicking, fleeing to bonnie Scotland to forge a new life as an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight.

Despite the clean getaway and initial legitimate media coverage, Alahverdian’s elaborate ruse hadn’t gone down as seamlessly as he might have thought. At the time of his disappearance, he was wanted in connection with many sex offences dating back to 2008, including rape and failing to register as a sex offender. He was also connected to a sexual assault case from 2018 in Ohio.

The convenient death, therefore, attracted the interest of state police and the FBI, who began looking into Alahverdian. “The priest was putting all the pieces in place, and then his phone rang,” Tim White, a CBS reporter, told the BBC. “It was a detective from the Rhode Island state police who told him, ‘Don’t put that mass on. We think he’s alive, so this would be a complete fraud of a memorial service’.

Meanwhile, Arthur Knight was living his happy new life across the Atlantic. He married a woman called Miranda and worked as a tutor. Everything was going swimmingly until October 2021. Alahverdian checked himself into a hospital in Glasgow, suffering a serious case of pneumonitis caused by Covid-19, with doctors describing him as the “sickest patient on the ward”. This condition supposedly necessitates the oxygen mask Alahverdian has donned since leaving hospital. The result – paired with his three-piece suit interpretation of a British man – Alahverdian resembles a combination of Batman villains Bane and The Penguin.

During his hospital stay, his distinctive tattoos and fingerprints were noticed by prosecutors in Utah and Police Scotland officers were issued with an Interpol red notice. Alahverdian was arrested in December 2021 and released on bail in January 2022. The eyes of the world would turn on the performance of Arthur Knight in all its fraudulent glory.

nicholas alahverdian nicholas rossi arthur knight

A man calling himself Arthur Knight departs Edinburgh Sheriff Court on February 15, 2023, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Over a year after the series of pathetic media appearances, an interview with NBC’s Dateline was released. It is undeniably the best one yet.

“We were once a normal family,” Alahverdian-Knight croaks in a strange interpretation of an English accent. His new wife, Miranda – lord knows what on earth she’s thinking – sits sympathetically beside him. “But thanks to the media, our lives have been interrupted. We’d like privacy and I would like to go back to being a normal husband, but I can’t because I can’t breathe, I can’t walk.”

It was at this point that Alahverdian-Knight delivers the pièce de résistance. To prove his frailty, he tries to stand up before tumbling dramatically back into his seat, good old Miranda doing her best to keep him upright. 

“Exactly, exactly,” he mutters as if the charade definitively proved his point. 

The interviewer then has the temerity to suggest this Athur Knight bloke might be a performance. Alahverdian does not like that one bit, committing to his performance, turning on the waterworks, and calling it a low blow as Miranda consoles him.

The story has come to light again this week, not only with the Dateline interview but as the extradition battle heats up. Alahverdian was expected to appear in the dock at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday, but he failed to appear after an alleged bust-up with security. It was reported that Rossi had repeatedly punched and kicked a security officer moments after arriving from HMP Edinburgh.

You can’t fault his effort, even if everything else about him is abhorrent and pathetic.

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