LOS ANGELES – Alexandra Zarini, the 35-year-old great-granddaughter of Gucci founder Aldo Gucci, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, September 8, accusing her former stepfather Joseph Ruffalo sexually abused her for 16 years.
Zarini accused Ruffalo, a music manager who worked with Prince and Earth, Wind & Fire, for sexually abusing her from she was 6 years old to the age of 22. She also claimed that her mother Patricia Gucci and her grandmother Bruna Palombo didn’t protect her, threatening her to remain quiet.
Ms. Gucci sent an email to The New York Times, saying “I am deeply sorry for the pain Joseph Ruffalo caused Alexandra. What he did to her is inexcusable and I was devastated when she disclosed everything to me at our family doctor’s office in London in September 2007.”
“I immediately initiated divorce proceedings against Mr. Ruffalo and set about healing my family through counseling. I am equally devastated by the allegations against me and her grandmother, which are completely false,” said Ms. Gucci.
Ruffalo’s lawyer, Richard P. Crane Jr., said his client denied the accusations that he was informed of, adding his client and Ms. Gucci were worried about Zarini’s mental health and did take steps to address her instability before. “Apparently, their efforts failed.”
Zarini started a foundation to help protect children from child sexual abuse.
“I’m coming forward publicly today because as hard as this is for me, I feel it’s my duty to expose the misconceptions about child sexual abuse and to raise awareness that every single day, we as a society are failing to protect the most vulnerable and innocent among us,” Zarini said in a video released by her lawyers.
She stressed, “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.”