UK Nicholas Rossi Documentary Revives Utah “Ritualistic Abuse” Probe Controversy

From the Scottish Sun, back in June 2022 (link added):

FUGITIVE rape suspect Nicholas Rossi has been slammed for accusing the prosecutor who is trying to extradite him back to the US of “ritualised child sex abuse”.

Lawman David Leavitt claims Glasgow-based Rossi accused him and his sex therapist wife Chelom of being involved in the “cannibalising and murder of small children”.

…Rossi’s claims were published on the same day the Utah County Sheriff’s Office issued a news release about a an ongoing probe into ritualistic child sexual abuse said to have taken place between 1990 and 2010.

[Leavitt] said: “That this occurs less than one week before ballots drop in an election which I am participating in causes me tremendous concern over the connections between a convicted sex offender, Nicholas Rossi, and the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.”

The incident has now been revisited in Imposter: The Man Who Came Back From the Dead, a four-part documentary series made by Five Mile Films and currently showing on the UK’s Channel 4. Famously, Rossi had surfaced in Glasgow claiming to be an Englishman named “Arthur Knight” – his overdone accent, 1940s Churchillian attire and unconvincing protestations of ongoing disability after suffering from Covid seemed comical in news clips, but the documentary leaves no doubt that “Knight” is actually a narcissistic financial and sexual predator who has had a string of women victims.

The Scottish Sun says that police in Utah “claimed a man claiming to be Knight had contacted them under the guise of an investigative reporter and that they didn’t know he was a fugitive facing extradition” The new documentary features input from a Scottish journalist named Marc Horne, who goes into further details about how this happened; Horne has also written up an account that was recently published in the Sunday Times Magazine:

I phoned the Sheriff’s Office, which had endorsed Leavitt’s electorial rival, and got through to a senior officer. “Ain’t that a coincidence,” he told me. “I’ve already been speaking to an investigative journalist from your part of the world. He’s given us credibile information about allegations of ritualised abuse. It’s a guy called Arthur Knight – you know him?

He gave an audible gulp when I told him his source was a suspected fugitive and alleged rapist who had faked his own death and was wanted by the FBI.

The notion that UCSO found Rossi “credible” is itself alarming; and Leavitt thinks that the flow of information actually went from the police to Rossi. As reported by Brandy Zadrozny in September 2022:

…Nicholas Rossi, an American who has been accused of faking his death and escaping to Scotland to evade rape charges in Utah, posted videos in which he accused Leavitt and his wife of leading a “ritual sex abuse cult.” Leavitt was overseeing an effort to extradite and prosecute Rossi.

As evidence for his claims, Rossi posted a 151-page statement, made a decade ago by an unnamed woman as part of a criminal case against a therapist that was later dismissed. That statement — which NBC News obtained via public records request to the Provo police department — included gory allegations of sexual abuse and mass murder from the 1980s and ʼ90s perpetrated not just by the therapist, but by more than a dozen other members of the Provo community, including David Leavitt and his wife. In a phone interview, Rossi, who posted the document to his now-defunct website, Zeus News Now, declined to share how he learned about or obtained the document.

UCSO denies having had anything to do with Rossi getting hold of the document – as such, its publication on the same day that UCSO announced an investigation into “ritualistic abuse” was simply coincidental. Leavitt had also inferred collusion because Rossi had further claimed that he had received “exclusive confirmation” from UCSO that the Leavitts were the “primary suspects”. As reported by 2KUTV, Leavitt and Sheriff Mike Smith held rival press conferences about the matter:

Leavitt called the victim of the case [involving the therapist] ‘tragically mentally ill’ and dismissed that he or his wife had ever participated in ritual child sex abuse.

…Leavitt suggested the timing of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office announcement of its ‘ritualistic sex abuse’ investigation is politically motivated. “

…At a hastily-called press conference Wednesday afternoon, Sheriff Smith said Leavitt has his facts wrong.

Smith said the ritual sex abuse investigation involves more than just the case where Leavitt said he and his wife were accused.

“Several times, Mr. Leavitt named himself and mentioned cannibalism and murder. This investigation is about child sex abuse,” Smith said. “I take exception to any victim coming forward and being categorized as ‘tragically mentally ill’. How dare you. These are victims of crimes who have mustered the courage to come forward and this is what you call them? Mentally ill. How dare you.”

Smith’s response here is inconsistent – if the allegations about “cannibalism and murder” are a distraction from a more credible child sex abuse case, why was he so keen to defend the unnamed person who made them?

Although Leavitt himself features in the Channel 4 documentary, this part of the background story is told by Horne:

David Leavitt had a neighbour by the name of David Hamblin. Allegations emerged that he was using hypnotheray to abuse small children. His wife decided she was going to divorce him. David Leavitt gave evidence against Mr Hamblin in court. According to David Leavitt, Mr Hamblin tried to take revenge on him by hypnotising what he described as a “mentally ill woman”, brainwashing her, and then encouraging her to to go to the police with allegations that David Leavitt was part of a ritualised paedophile ring, a murderer and a cannibal. (1)

This would seem to be an example of “recovered memory therapy”, in which a therapist uses hynotism or other techniques to persuade someone that they had been sexually abused in childhood and had repressed the memory of it. Of course, “mentally ill” carries broad stigmatising connotations of delusion and irrationality that do not reflect why someone goes to a therapist or may come to believe false memories, and it seems that Smith seized on Leavitt’s unguarded usage.

However, there is a strange discrepancy here: David Lee Hamblin and his ex-wife have now been charged as a result of the “probe” (his mugshot even appears in the documentary), and the details suggest that the USCO news release in 2022 was about them all along. Here’s how Fox 13 reported Leavitt’s press conference a few months later, including a quote from Leavitt:

“When I was a law student, this therapist was my elder’s quorum president with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was my neighbor. I had a family connection… There was no organized ring of abuse. It was debunked more than ten years ago.”

During that same press conference, Leavitt described his accuser as “tragically mentally ill.”

She is one of the same women who accused Hamblin and others.

This was written by Adam Herbets, who was criticised by name by Leavitt during the press conference (he responded here). So, in this version, the woman who provided the “151-page statement” also accused Hamblin, rather than having been incited by Hamblin to accuse others – in which case, Horne’s version is garbled. The reference to “women” in the plural indicates that the current case against Hamlin and his wife does not rely on this woman exclusively, although “one of the same women” is a strange construction, given that other women did not feature previously. The article also notes that Leavitt said that he had previously prosecuted Hamblin for “poaching a deer… for ritualistic purposes”,  here meaning some sort of Native American-inspired practice.

The Salt Lake Tribune pointedly notes that Hamblin and his ex-wife are “the only two people who were eventually charged” in relation to the sex abuse probe, highlighting the contrast with UCSO’s original implication of a wider conspiracy (the Epoch Times quoted UCSO’s Spencer Cannon in September 2022 as saying that they “anticipate there will be more arrests in the future”). It seems that UCSO’s use of the term “ritualistic” has a far broader meaning than the “Satanic cult” context that is usually implied when the word is evoked. As described in report about the case by ABC4:

The term “ritualistic” means that more than one person was involved, the abuse was considered organized, and there may be a religious element to the abuse.

This reminds me of how “ritualistic” was use in a similar very loose way in Australia in 2018.


1. The Channel 4 subtitles for Imposter spell Hamblin as “David Hamlin”.