Alexandra Zarini, the granddaughter of Aldo Gucci, says her former stepfather sexually abused her at the family’s Beverly Hills home when she was a child. These disturbing allegations are laid out in a lawsuit filed with Los Angeles Superior Court earlier this week.
Fashion label Gucci was founded by Guccio Gucci. Aldo Gucci, who died of prostate cancer in 1990, was the founder’s eldest son. Aldo Gucci had three children with his first wife and a daughter, Patricia Gucci, with his mistress, Bruna Palombo. Patricia Gucci had two daughters, including Alexandra Zarini, during her first marriage.
The accused is Patricia Gucci’s second husband, music manager Joseph Ruffalo. The suit also names Patricia Gucci and Palombo, who Zarini claims encouraged her to remain silent about the abuse, according to the New York Times.
Zarini, now 35, says the abuse began when she was 6 years old and continued until she was 22. She said it started when she would wake up from a nightmare as a child and run to her mother’s bed for comfort. Ruffalo would already be in bed, naked, and put her hand on his genitals. The abuse escalated from there, with Ruffalo climbing nude into her bed where he’d fondle her while rubbing his genitals against her body. Zarini also alleges that Ruffalo encouraged her to use drugs as she got older.
Zarini also alleges that her mother would physically abuse her and that Ruffalo would intervene and use his role as her protector to abuse her in other ways. Zarini claims that both her mother and grandmother eventually came to know about Ruffalo’s abuse, but told her not to go public to avoid scandal.
In a statement Zarini posted to YouTube, she says, “My mother, Patricia Gucci, and grandmother, Bruna Palomba, did not protect me, they did not shield me, they allowed it to happen.”
She said it’s her duty to come forward now 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.”
“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,” she says.
Patricia Gucci issued a statement to the New York Times, denying that she enabled the abuse, and pointing to how she divorced Ruffalo in 2007 after Zarini told her what was going on at a doctor’s office in London that same year.
“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,” Gucci said.
Ruffalo’s attorney, Richard P. Crane, Jr., responded on his client’s behalf, saying Ruffalo has yet to be served nor has he read the complaint, but denies the allegations of which he’s aware.
“While married to Alexandra’s mother, Mr. Ruffalo and his wife were greatly concerned about the mental well-being of Alexandra and took steps to address her instability. Apparently, their efforts failed,” Crane said. He also said that Ruffalo does not volunteer at any children’s hospitals.
Zarini says she’s not interested in attention or money, and that the money she may be awarded as a result of the lawsuit is likely less than she would have inherited had she not come forward. If Zarini is awarded any money at all, her attorney says it will be donated to her new nonprofit, the Alexandra Gucci Children’s Foundation, the L.A. Times reports.