Richard Rossi Biography | Richard Rossi
Richard Rossi (born March 2, 1963) is an American filmmaker, actor, writer, talk radio host, and former evangelical minister. In 1995 Rossi went on trial for the attempted murder of his wife. She recanted her original identification of Rossi as her attacker and espoused his innocence.
The case ended in a mistrial and was front-page news in Rossi’s adopted hometown of Pittsburgh and was widely covered as something of a cause célèbre by syndicated television news programs. Rossi eventually was acquitted of attempted murder but pleaded no contest to aggravated assault.
Rossi’s father was a professional jazz guitarist in West View, Pennsylvania; the son followed in his father’s footsteps, playing the guitar on stage at age 7.
As a child, Rossi was fascinated with Pittsburgh-based faith healer Kathryn Kuhlman. After one of his father’s hospitalizations for manic depression, Rossi landed in a surrogate family led by an evangelist who immersed him in Pentecostal preaching and outreach.
After a drug overdose, Rossi became a born-again Christian and toured as a rock and roll preacher, usually in tandem with songwriting partner Johnny Walker, playing gospel rock. Rossi and his songwriting partner Walker were featured on The 700 Club.
Richard Rossi Age
Richard Rossi is 56 years old as of 2019 American Actor. Born Richard A. Rossi Jr. on 2nd March 1963 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, he is famous for Close to Home. His zodiac sign is Pisces.
Rossi moved to Lynchburg, Virginia at age 18 to study at Liberty University, where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in biblical studies.
His second church, created informally with ministry partner Jack Sims, was called “Matthew’s Party,” the name is taken from the biblical story about Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Matthew, the gospel writer.
In 1986, Rossi started First Love, a charismatic church. He rented movie theaters and showed films as an evangelistic outreach. Dramatic faith healings allegedly occurred.
The healing services, called “Healing Clinics,” grew from 200 to 2000. Rossi filmed the healings and co-produced a documentary on faith healing and exorcism in 1992 entitled Quest for Truth. The program first aired during the fall 1993 season on WPGH-TV 53 and WPTT-TV 22.
In 1988, Rossi tried and failed to change both the name of the Church of the Three Rivers and its affiliation. He then joined the Assemblies of God the next year and led the Cranberry church, but left in 1991, saying that his ministry was too radical for the Assemblies; church officials said he left owing several thousand dollars for the church building.
In September 1991, Rossi began broadcasting his nightly radio show Rich Rossi Live on Pittsburgh’s WPIT-FM. The program created controversy when Rossi called other evangelical churches “whores” who sell out the gospel for money. Rossi appeared on the Jerry Springer Show in 1994 to discuss faith healing, exorcism, and ESP.
Richard Rossi Wife, Married
In 1984, Richard met and married his wife Sherrie in Lynchburg, Virginia. Sherrie saw Walker and Rossi perform there at Liberty University, where they were given a standing ovation by the audience of 5,000.
Richard and Sherrie moved back to Pittsburgh in 1986. Richard reached out to his hometown, performing concerts and facilitating healing services as a guitar-playing maverick minister in Pittsburgh venues such as the nightclub Graffiti, Station Square, and Soldier’s and Sailors, drawing crowds of several thousand.
Attempted Murder Charge
On June 24, 1994, Rossi’s wife, Sherrie Lynn, was found near death in a coma on the side of a Pennsylvania road. She had a crushed skull and was left covered in blood; her injuries were so severe that she needed to wear a helmet.
Her rescuers thought she had been in a traffic accident, and called for an ambulance. Ninety minutes later, at 8:05 pm, Richard Rossi called the police and claimed that men killed his wife and shot at him twice.
But when police came to interview him, his story changed, first claiming that a man that looked like him got into the passenger side of the car, then that the man who looked like him attacked from the driver’s side.
Rossi had a cellular phone available, but said he pursued the assailant instead of dialing for help because he was a “good runner.”
Rossi also changed his story on where the assailants approached from, first saying they were in a white car, then that they “came out of the woods out of nowhere.”
Police testified that Rossi told them a “satanic cult” was trying to frame him; Rossi denies this. Rossi was wearing only a pair of tan shorts when police interviewed him; Rossi claimed that he lost his shirt running through the woods, but did not explain why he was barefoot.
Several witnesses reported seeing a man with long hair near the Rossi’s cars, and State Police reports suggested the presence of two other cars, one blue and one white.
Ms. Rossi twice testified that her husband attacked her and left her for dead. Sherrie Lynn received an order of protection from a court.
But in October 1994, Sherrie withdrew her accusation; a state court judge refused her request to void the order of protection. (Press accounts claimed that Ms. Rossi stated that her attacker might have been a demon in human form, but the Rossis deny she said this.)
Sherrie’s stepbrother, Mark Plaugher, accused the Rossi family of pressuring her to change her story; her father said she had been “brainwashed,” and Sherrie’s stepfather, Phil Plaugher, said that church members pressured Sherrie by telling her that it was a sin to testify against one’s husband.
Sherrie Rossi testified in the trial that her attacker was a different man with brown eyes and that Rossi’s eyes are blue. She said her earlier testimony against Rossi was coerced by police when she was still recovering and did not have a complete recollection, and that her second testimony exonerating her husband came from “flashbacks” and a “fuller complete recollection” of what occurred.
Sherrie Rossi said: “We have eyewitnesses who saw a white car similar to ours following us and several family members several weeks before I was attacked. My husband also received a number of threats before I was attacked. The whole police had one agenda from Day One, and that was to get my husband.”
During her testimony, Sherrie Rossi wore a shirt with two doll figures labeled “Rich” and “Sherrie” and flashed the American Sign Language sign for love at her husband Richard.
Over Rossi’s wife’s objections, prosecutors charged him with attempted murder and won a court ruling admitting her earlier testimony at trial.
The parties argued whether the blood-soaked interior of Rossi’s car was consistent with Sherrie’s claim. The secretary of Rossi’s church testified that Rossi asked him shortly after the incident to forge an alibi.
The defense called two witnesses, a church member, and Rossi’s mother, for a total of a half-hour of testimony; Rossi himself did not testify.
A five-day trial ended in a hung jury, with the vote 9–3 in favor of conviction after six and a half hours of deliberation. Before retrial, Rossi pleaded no contest to a count of second-degree aggravated assault while maintaining his innocence.
Though his followers wanted him to fight what his wife called an “assault of justice”, Rossi stated he pled nolo contendere to end the ordeal. “One of my many goals is to heal our family and become the best husband and father I can be,” Rossi said to the judge.
He received a four-to-eight-month sentence in Butler County Jail plus four years of probation and required domestic violence counseling; he served 96 days.
Domestic violence workers criticized the short sentence. The Rossis renewed their wedding vows after his release. Rossi wrote an apologetic letter to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette saying: “I repent of the sins I have committed and, with God’s help, do not plan to repeat them.”
Sherrie Rossi, who had campaigned for her husband’s exoneration, sued state and county officials for abridging her civil rights when courts refused to lift a bond restriction forbidding her husband to contact her while he was out on bail; the suit was dismissed by a federal court.
In 1996, Sherrie self-published Assault of Justice: The Richard Rossi Mystery, defending her husband and proclaiming his innocence, and claiming that charges were retaliation for exposing police corruption and a satanic cult on his talk radio show.
She said eyewitnesses confirmed her husband’s innocence and that they had been receiving threats prior to the assault. An unsupported press release asserted Rossi was innocent (based on physical evidence and the testimony of eyewitnesses).
While charges were pending and Rossi served his sentence, membership in his church dropped from 300 to 12. Media scrutiny of his trials and tribulations revealed Rossi suffered mental health, depression, and addiction issues similar to his father’s.
Rossi enrolled in a recovery program in jail that he continued after his release, including meetings four days a week, daily monitoring, and treatment in Atlanta.
After his release from jail, Rossi and his wife hosted a free Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless at the Ranch House in Pittsburgh’s North Park.
Rossi paid for buses to transport urban children out of high-crime areas to the park. Most of the buses got to those wanting to come, but one had difficulty getting to the arranged pick-up due to snow.
Native Americans danced and helped Rossi serve dinners to disadvantaged children. Some of his fellow inmates Rossi befriended in jail attended to help serve the poor.
Richard Rossi Net Worth
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On November 28, 2014, Rossi was in the news again regarding the controversy over the shooting of Michael Brown. Rossi wrote and recorded a protest song expressing his feelings about a grand jury’s decision not to charge a white police officer in the death of the unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri.
“I wrote the song in five minutes as a way to express my emotions about the danger of trigger-happy police,” Rossi said. “I filmed it on my laptop at my kitchen table and uploaded it to YouTube.”
Rossi uploaded the video on November 26 and provided the song’s lyrics in the video description. Here is a sample from the song’s beginning, printed in the Los Angeles Daily News: “Down at the courthouse on a Monday afternoon/Justice was thrown right out the window when a young white cop entered the room.”
Rossi continues to host his radio talk-show “Richard Rossi Live” as a podcast on BlogTalkRadio. In 2015, the format of the program changed from its Christian roots on WPIT, a Salem Radio Network station, by broadening its content for a general audience. Although Rossi still on occasion discusses religion, the program’s focus is on known artists, writers, and celebrity guests.
Following the positive Pittsburgh reception to Rossi’s Roberto Clemente project, Rossi said they were coming home, living “bicoastal,” maintaining homes in Hollywood and Pittsburgh.
“We’d like to spend more time in our home, where most of our family and friends live, in the North Hills of Pittsburgh,” Rossi said.
In March 2016, it was reported that Rossi was in pre-production on his film Canaan Land. Claudia Wells was announced as being cast as Sister Sara Sunday. but Rebecca Holden eventually played the part.
On September 30, 2017, CBS KCAL9 news reported on Rossi’s founding of the support group Families Fighting Fentanyl to combat the fentanyl epidemic, to help addicts, work with law enforcement to hold drug dealers accountable and support grieving families who lost a loved one to fentanyl.
Rossi discussed the 2017 death of his youngest brother due to an overdose of heroin laced with fentanyl. On January 31, 2018, Rossi and his family, in tandem with Pittsburgh Police, offered a cash reward for information leading to the arrest of the individual(s) who gave his brother the fatal fentanyl dose.
In May 2019, Rossi and other actors performed monologues based on interviews with homeless people as part of Homeward L.A., an effort to raise money for the Midnight Mission, a Los Angeles skid row shelter.