Alexandra Zarini, the 35-year-old granddaughter of Aldo Gucci, the man who turned a small Italian artisanal company into a global fashion brand, has filed a lawsuit in a US court alleging that her stepfather, Joseph Ruffalo, sexually abused her over a period of 16 years.

According to a report by, the action, filed in the California superior court in Los Angeles, describes years of sexual abuse from her former stepfather, Joseph Ruffalo, and complicity and a cover-up on the part of her mother, Patricia Gucci, and grandmother Bruna Palombo.

Zarini’s lawsuit alleges that Ruffalo, a music-industry player who has worked with Prince and Earth, Wind & Fire, subjected her to sexual abuse from the age of six to when she was about 22.

The lawsuit, which was first reported by the New York Times, alleges Ruffalo regularly got into bed naked with her, fondled her along with other allegations.

Zarini also claims that Patricia Gucci not only allowed her former stepfather to continue the alleged molestation but that Palombo instructed her “to keep quiet and cover them up”, the lawsuit states, reports

Also read: All you need to know about Gucci heiress Alexandra Zarini

Both women, Patricia Gucci and Palombo, the lawsuit continues, “tried to avoid, at all costs, what they perceived would be a scandal that could tarnish the Gucci name and potentially cost them millions”.

The lawsuit also accuses her mother of hitting and sometimes trying to strangle her daughter. Her then husband, Ruffalo, would then “rescue” his stepdaughter and allegedly abuse her under the pretense of being her protector.

 “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,” Zarini said in a video released by her lawyers, reports

“This is not something that only happens to other families, other neighborhoods or other countries. It is everywhere.”

The filing of the 21-page lawsuit was paired with the launch of the heiress’s anti-child abuse non-profit, the Alexandra Gucci Children’s Foundation.

However, Patricia Gucci in a statement said that she was “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.”

However, Patricia Gucci, who lives in Switzerland, denied Zarini’s allegations against her and Palombo. “I am equally devastated by the allegations against me and her grandmother, which are completely false,” she told the paper.

A legal representative for Ruffalo said that his client had not been served with legal papers and could not respond directly to the allegations. “What he has been informed of, he vehemently and categorically denies,” Richard Crane, the lawyer, said.

Crane added that while married to Zarini’s mother, both “were greatly concerned about the mental wellbeing of Alexandra and took steps to address her instability”.

“Apparently, their efforts failed,” Crane added.