Fans always call victims of rape by famous and powerful and wealthy men liars. Well, “If you think this doesn’t happen here in Beverly Hills, then you should know that my perpetrator still lives in California, spends time at the Bel-Air Country Club, and volunteers in your children’s hospitals,” said Alexandria Zarini, the 35-year-old granddaughter of Gucci founder Aldo Gucci and heir to the multimillion-dollar fortune.
On Tuesday, Zarini filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that her former stepfather Joseph Ruffalo sexually abused her in their Beverly Hills home for 16 years, and that her mother and grandmother knew of the abuse and threatened her with disinheritance in order to keep it quiet.
The 21-page suit alleges that Ruffalo, a music producer who managed Prince and Earth, Wind, and Fire, among other acts, would go into her bedroom from the time she was six years old until she was a young adult and fondle her genitals on a regular basis.
“Defendant Ruffalo would remove his bathrobe, so he was completely naked, and climb into bed with Plaintiff,” the suit alleges. “Plaintiff would lie stiffly in her bed as Defendant Ruffalo reached underneath Plaintiff’s clothes to touch Plaintiff’s nipples.”
The suit also alleges that Zarini’s mother, Patricia Gucci, physically abused her, which set the stage for Ruffalo to intervene, isolate her, and then further assault her. Zarini also accuses her mother of letting Ruffalo film her while she was in the bathtub. As a result, Zarini said she developed several mental health issues, including a suicide attempt in high school.
Both Gucci and Ruffalo have denied these allegations.
Zarini’s mother, the product of an affair that Aldo Gucci had with a much younger staffer in the 1960s, said that she initiated divorce proceedings with Ruffalo in 2007 as soon as she learned about the abuse. But Zarini claims that her mother, and her grandmother, Bruna Palumbo, both knew about the abuse and told her to keep quiet. She says that when she was 16, her grandmother asked her if Ruffalo was molesting her. When Zarini told her that she had, Palombo “stiffened and became obviously uncomfortable” and told her granddaughter to keep the matter a secret.
Later, when Zarini considered reporting Ruffalo to the police, she says her mother and grandmother told her it would bring shame to the family and would be the “ultimate betrayal,” and threatened disinheritance. But Zarini has said that she doesn’t care, and filed a police report in 2019 with the Beverly Hills Police Department, who have confirmed that the case remains open. Zarini attorney said that she filed the case when she had reason to suspect that Ruffalo was volunteering at a local children’s hospital.
“I don’t care. I just want to stop this…I don’t want this to happen to anyone, like my child or any child,” Zarini told the New York Times.
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: AP
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