Did A Progressive Prosecutor Eat Children In Utah?
Earlier this week, the Utah County Sheriff's office announced their reinvestigation into a supposed child sex trafficking ring they claim was involved in "ritualistic child sex abuse" between the years of 1990-2010, asking victims and those with knowledge of the crimes to come forward "so that they can be offered all the assistance possible."
If this sounds a tad suspect to you, it is probably because you have lived through some part of the last several decades or are perhaps familiar with the Satanic Panic, the 87,000 documentaries on people falsely accused and wrongfully imprisoned over this nonsense (highly recommend Southwest of Salem, Witch Hunt and Fall River), or even the FBI Behavioral Science Unit's 1992 report on "ritual abuse." Or perhaps what really tipped you off is the fact that no actual instances of it have ever actually been proven to have happened outside the imaginations of people like Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith and the man who reportedly sparked the current investigation, a convicted sex offender/incel rights activist who faked his own death and moved to Scotland, where he was identified after turning up in a hospital sick with COVID.
Following the Utah County Sheriff's press release, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt called for Sheriff Smith to resign and for the Sheriff's Department itself to be investigated, due to the outlandish nature of the so-called investigation. Leavitt also noted that he and his wife were cited in the official "report" on the investigation, which accused them of not only ritualistically abusing children, but of eating them.
“I am calling upon Sheriff Mike Smith to open his office to an outside investigation,” Leavitt said in a statement, “where outside, independent investigators are able to investigate and confirm or deny that documents from a debunked investigation from more than a decade ago were or were not used for political purposes in a Utah County Attorney’s race.”
“The allegation that I am asserting is that the sheriff’s office is using its position for political gain and accusing them of abusing and cannibalizing and murdering children. And no, I will not step aside.”
Leavitt is currently up for reelection and is deeply unpopular with the Sheriff's office in Utah County due to the fact that he is what one might call a "progressive prosecutor." One of his first actions as county attorney was to establish a pre-filing diversion program, which allow those accused of non-violent minor crimes to enter into an agreement with his office to "complete community service, life classes or drug treatment" in exchange for charges not being filed against them, which — despite producing results — deeply upset police and Republican politicians in the state who don't care so much about what is effective as they do about the sheer joy of sending people to prison for minor infractions. Leavitt has also established a Conviction Integrity Unit to investigate wrongful convictions, which can't have made them too happy either.
His office also announced in January the arrest of one Nicholas Rossi (AKA Nicholas Alahverdian, Nicholas Alahverdian Rossi, Nicholas Edward Rossi, Nicholas Alahverdian-Rossi, Nick Alan, Nicholas Brown, Arthur Brown, Arthur Knight), the previously mentioned convicted sex offender who had faked his own death and was hiding out in Scotland. His identity was discovered, however, when he turned up in a Scottish hospital to get treatment for COVID, though he denied being who authorities said he was.
"In 2020, the Utah County Attorney’s Office worked in coordination with the Utah Department of Public Safety — State Bureau of Investigation’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative unit to establish a multi-disciplinary team to review old sexual assault cases where the original sexual assault kits had not been tested," Leavitt's Office explained in a statement. "One of the cases involved a 2008 sexual assault where the suspect was Nicholas Rossi."
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the only forum in which they were accused of anything was on Rossi's completely bananapants website, where he continues to claim he is a British man named Arthur Knight who has absolutely no idea who this Nicholas Rossi person is.
Rossi, born Nicholas Alahverdian (Rossi being his stepfather's name), had previously unsuccessfully sued the Department of Youth, Children and Family social service system in Providence, Rhode Island, for abuse and neglect and had been convicted of "public indecency and sexual imposition" in Ohio after pinning a classmate to a wall, masturbating on her and telling her "I'm almost done. Don't be a bitch" while she protested and tried to push him away. He later wrote an essay about the incident titled "My Personal 9/11" in which he accused the woman he assaulted of 9/11-ing his "goals and aspirations."
Rossi also pleaded no contest to domestic assault in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in 2010 after brutally beating a woman at his home.
Those were just the charges that resulted in a conviction. Rossi had been reported to police by at least three other women in Pawtucket. One was his wife of six months whom he had brutally beaten and two were women he went out with and then held captive in his apartment for a period of time. In one of those incidents, a woman went back to his apartment with him after a date, where he repeatedly berated her about having sex with him.
According to the Providence Journal:
Alahverdian became “enraged” by her refusal, prevented her from leaving, took her cellphone when she tried to call 911, then demanded “she would have to pay him back for the dinner,” says the police report. He drove her car to an ATM at the Walgreens on North Main Street, in Providence, and demanded she withdraw $200.
“She felt she had no choice but to give him the money, in fear of further violence,” the report says. He then drove her back to his apartment, where police say he forced her to sign a paper while he videotaped it indicating she “could not pursue legal action and that the money she gave him was for therapy for him due to her violent actions and her sexual addiction.”
Only then did Alahverdian allow her to leave, the police report says.
Yeah. So that's their big source here.
For his part, Sheriff Mike Smith is continuing to pretend that this is a very legitimate investigation and he is just really concerned for all of the children who were abused in these evil Satanic rituals that definitely happened. Smith also says he never said anything about cannibalism or about David Leavitt and his wife.
Some might ask what the problem is with this investigation, or with putting the call out for victims of this alleged child sex trafficking ring. Because hey! If it's not a thing, then no one has anything to worry about. But we've seen this movie before (literally, because again, there are several documentaries about it) and what ends up happening each time is that people come out of the woodwork making bizarre and impossible claims and that no matter how bizarre and impossible they seem, people's lives get ruined every time. Whether because they are sent to prison for decades for crimes they didn't commit, or because they have to live the rest of their lives under suspicion of something they didn't do. Or even because they were convinced by a psychologist that something horrible happened to them when it didn't.
The American Right has learned a terrifying lesson from the whole QAnon/Pizzagate thing — and that is that they can reap political success and get whatever they want simply by accusing people of child molestation and/or cannibalism, without the inconvenience of ever having to provide evidence of any kind. They did it with LGBTQ+ teachers and now they're doing it with progressive prosecutors. That is what is going on here, and it's not going to end well.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse