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Gucci heiress claims family covered up decades of sexual abuse

A Gucci heiress has accused her stepfather of sexually abusing her for 16 years and blamed her mother and grandmother for allegedly covering up the abuse. 

Alexandra Zarini, the granddaughter of late fashion supremo Aldo Gucci, claims that her mother’s ex-husband Joseph Ruffalo would climb naked into her bed and fondle her when she was a child. 

In a lawsuit filed in California, Zarini, 35, alleges that her mother Patricia Gucci and grandmother Bruna Palombo knew of the abuse and threatened her in order to keep it quiet. 

She also released a video statement via the Alexandra Gucci Children’s Foundation, saying she believed it was her duty to ‘expose the misconceptions’ surrounding child sexual abuse.  

Alexandra Zarini (pictured) has accused her stepfather of sexually abusing her for 16 years and blamed her mother and grandmother for allegedly covering up the abuse

Alexandra Zarini (pictured) has accused her stepfather of sexually abusing her for 16 years and blamed her mother and grandmother for allegedly covering up the abuse

Zarini, the granddaughter of late fashion supremo Aldo Gucci, claims that her mother's ex-husband Joseph Ruffalo (pictured above) would climb naked into her bed and fondle her when she was a child

Zarini, the granddaughter of late fashion supremo Aldo Gucci, claims that her mother’s ex-husband Joseph Ruffalo (pictured above) would climb naked into her bed and fondle her when she was a child

Aldo Gucci and daughter Patricia Gucci attend the premiere of "Yes, Giorgio" on September 22, 1982

Aldo Gucci

Gucci heiress Alexandra Zarini has accused her stepfather of sexually abusing her for 16 years and blamed her mother and grandmother for allegedly covering up the abuse. Aldo Gucci and daughter Patricia Gucci pictured in 1982, left, and Aldo Gucci, right

Ruffalo denies the allegations, while Patricia Gucci says she only learned of the alleged abuse in 2007 – leading her to divorce Ruffalo. 

The lawsuit filed by Zarini in Los Angeles alleges that the abuse started before her mother married Joseph Ruffalo, her second husband. 

She claims that she would find Ruffalo with his hand on her genitals when she woke up after climbing into her mother’s bed when she had nightmares. 

Zarini also alleges that Ruffalo would take off his bathrobe and climb naked into her bed before ‘reaching underneath her clothes’ to fondle her. 

The alleged abuse continued when Zarini was a teenager and attending boarding school in the UK, the lawsuit claims, with an old school friend claiming that Zarini had confided in her at the time. 

After she finished school, Zarini moved back to California and lived with Ruffalo. 

Ruffalo continued to sexually assault Ms. Zarini and ‘encouraged her to use drugs’, the lawsuit alleges. 

Gucci board member Patricia Gucci and her father, designer Gucci Shop chairman Aldo Gucci in 1982

Dr. Aldo Gucci in 1973

Ruffalo denies the allegations, while Patricia Gucci says she only learned of the alleged abuse in 2007 – leading her to divorce Ruffalo. Patricia Gucci pictured with her father, Aldo Gucci, left. Aldo Gucci pictured in 1973, right 

The New York Times reported that Patricia, Zarini’s mother, and her grandmother allegedly knew about the abuse for years and Patricia had allowed Ruffalo to videotape Zarini while taking a bath. 

He also hit her regularly, court documents allege. 

Speaking to the publication, Zarini said that her mother and grandmother had threatened her with disinheritance if she ever spoke out. 

She added that since coming out of Sierra Tucson rehabilitation center in Tucson, she has been financially independent from her family and gave birth to her first child four years ago. 

Zarini believes no one in her family would speak to her again if she went through with the lawsuit, but she was prompted to move forward with it after learning that Ruffalo was volunteering at a children’s hospital in Los Angeles. 

Patricia Gucci, the daughter of Aldo Gucci and Bruna Palombo, circa 1987. Alexandra Zarini is one of three daughters of Patricia Gucci, the only child of Aldo Gucci and Bruna Palombo

Patricia Gucci, the daughter of Aldo Gucci and Bruna Palombo, circa 1987. Alexandra Zarini is one of three daughters of Patricia Gucci, the only child of Aldo Gucci and Bruna Palombo

‘I don’t care. I just want to stop this … I just don’t want this to happen to anyone, like my child or any child,’ she told the newspaper. 

In a video statement released by the Alexandra Gucci Children’s Foundation, Zarini said she decided to speak out because ‘there needs to be accountability for those people who look away and who don’t stop child sex abuse from happening.’  

Alexandra Zarini is one of three daughters of Patricia Gucci, the only child of Aldo Gucci and Bruna Palombo. 

Aldo Gucci, who died in 1990, was the son of company founder Guccio Gucci and turned his father’s leather goods firm into a global fashion giant. 

He opened the company’s first American store in New York City in 1953 and brought his sons Giorgio, Paolo and Roberto and his nephew Maurizio into the firm’s top ranks. 

In 1986, he pleaded guilty to evading $7million in taxes and was later implicated in a corporate tax evasion scheme. 

The family no longer has any ownership of the firm after Maurizio Gucci sold his remaining shares in 1993.   

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