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Ted Petrossi

Other Exonerees Charged with Sexual Assaults that Didn't Happen
On March 22, 1996, 24-year-old Amy Knorr told her therapist she had been raped in her home in Orem, Utah, by 40-year-old Ted Petrossi. The therapist notified police who arrested and charged Petrossi, a former U.S. Marine, with first-degree rape and first-degree burglary.

Four years earlier, Petrossi and his wife, Jana, were living in California. They divorced there and then Jana moved to Orem. Petrossi moved to Orem some time later and tried to rekindle their relationship. He was successful—at the time he was charged, Petrossi and Jana were making plans to remarry.

Knorr was a neighbor of Jana’s, also divorced. They had become friends after Jana moved back to Orem. Both worked and they took turns caring for each other’s children.

Knorr was taken to a hospital for a rape examination immediately after police were notified, but she refused to be examined so there was no rape kit or other physical evidence.

Petrossi went to trial in Utah County District Court in June 1996. Knorr said that Petrossi broke into her home and sexually assaulted her on a stairway. She said she suffered a dislocated shoulder in the attack.

Petrossi denied assaulting Knorr. Witnesses testified for Petrossi that Knorr showed no apparent injuries the day after the alleged rape.

On June 18, 1996, a jury convicted Petrossi of first-degree rape and first-degree burglary. In September 1996, he was sentenced to five years to life in prison.

One month later, Knorr accused Jana’s brother of raping her. Again, she refused to submit to a medical examination and she again said she suffered a dislocated shoulder. When police investigated, they discovered that Jana’s brother was at work at the time of the alleged attack. Police charged Knorr with filing a false police report.

Petrossi’s attorney filed a motion for a new trial based on Knorr’s false accusation against Jana’s brother. The lawyer also discovered that Knorr had a lengthy history of making false charges. As a teenager, she had accused her father of sexually abusing her in the course satanic rituals. She also filed false rape accusations against a former boyfriend, her stepfather, her husband and another woman. Medical records showed that Knorr had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and had a propensity for faking illness and lying to attract attention.

On December 5, 1997, a judge vacated Petrossi’s conviction and granted him a new trial. He was released from prison just before Christmas. In early 1998, the prosecution dismissed the charges. Petrossi and Jana were remarried in March of that year.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 9/22/2015
State:Utah
County:Utah
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:Burglary/Unlawful Entry
Reported Crime Date:1996
Convicted:1996
Exonerated:1998
Sentence:5 to life
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:40
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No