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Trial, Wedding Renewal Set for Minister Accused of Wife Beating

April 4, 1995

BUTLER, Pa. (AP) _ A minister accused of severely beating his wife, who recanted her claim that he assaulted her, will face a second trial in the attack five days before the two renew their wedding vows.

Richard Rossi, pastor of the First Love Church, will be tried a second time on charges of aggravated assault and attempted murder June 19, prosecutor Sheryle Long said Monday. His first trial ended Friday with a deadlocked jury.

Sherrie Rossi said last week that she and her husband plan to renew their wedding vows on June 24, exactly one year after Mrs. Rossi, 34, was found on a road north of Pittsburgh, beaten nearly to death.

Rossi, soaking wet and wearing only a pair of khaki shorts, turned up a mile away, two hours later. He claimed a man who looked just like him jumped into his wife’s car and drove off with her as the two were house-hunting.

Police said Rossi, 31, was having marital troubles when he lured his wife into a remote area and clubbed her, but prosecutors had no physical evidence linking him to the crime.

When she came out of a three-day coma, Mrs. Rossi said her husband had beaten her. She changed her story two months later, testified at the trial that her attacker had brown eyes. Rossi’s eyes are blue.

Rossi, an ordained minister known for his rock ‘n’ roll style of preaching, released an album of contemporary Christian music, ``New Wine,″ in 1994.

Rossi is free on $250,000 bond. Long’s request that bail be revoked or increased because Rossi violated its conditions by seeing his ex-wife was denied Monday by Common Pleas Judge Floyd Rauschenberger.

The defense attorney has asked that the no-contact provision be lifted, but the judge did not immediately rule.

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