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Gucci Heir Alleges Child Sexual Abuse

In 2016, Patricia Gucci published a memoir, “In the Name of Gucci,” about her life and her parents’ relationship, which began in secret and lasted 30 years. Aldo Gucci, her father, was already married and had three sons when he met her mother, a sales clerk in the Rome store; they began an affair at a time when adultery was illegal in Italy.

Patricia, however, was doted on by her father. She was featured in a Gucci ad campaign, given a seat on the company board at 19, and named a roving ambassador for the brand. In 1986, while embroiled in a family feud, Aldo Gucci was convicted of tax evasion in the United States and served a year in prison; he died in 1990. Patricia married, had two children, divorced and then started a relationship with Joseph Ruffalo.

Ms. Gucci and her two daughters moved to California to live with him; they later married and had a child, though according to Ms. Zarini, he had already begun abusing her. In the lawsuit, Ms. Zarini said that when she had nightmares as a child and climbed into bed with her mother, Mr. Ruffalo would be there, naked, and she would wake up to find her hand on his penis. As Ms. Zarini got older, she said, Mr. Ruffalo’s behavior began to escalate.

According to the filing, “Defendant Ruffalo would remove his bathrobe, so he was completely naked, and climb into bed with Plaintiff. Plaintiff would lie stiffly in her bed as Defendant Ruffalo reached underneath Plaintiff’s clothes to touch Plaintiff’s nipples.” She also said he attempted to penetrate her with his hands.

The lawsuit also describes Ms. Gucci hitting Ms. Zarini and sometimes trying to strangle her. Mr. Ruffalo would “rescue” his stepdaughter and then use his role as her protector to touch her in intimate ways.

According to the filing, when Ms. Zarini was about 16, her grandmother asked her if her stepfather was molesting her. When she confirmed that he was, her grandmother told her to keep it “secret and not tell anyone about the assaults.”

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