Did ABC 20/20 edit audio recordings of David Rucki verbally abusing his young son, to portray him in a more sympathetic light? And what message does their reporting send to abuse victims, to child abuse victims?
Footage from “Footprints in the Snow” suggests that ABC 20/20 and reporter Elizabeth Vargas drastically edited a recording of David Rucki leaving an angry voicemail message to his teenage son, and omitted the rest of the recording that would show that David was emotionally abusive, denigrating the mother. The recordings are part of a series of voicemail messages, one message included the sound of 6 gun shots (one for each family member).
The Justice Blog will present you with 20/20’s coverage and additional information that was not included in the episode.
Investigative journalist Michael Volpe, of Communities Digital News, has also written an article that will provide additional information, and insight: Did 20/20 Manipulate the Rucki Story to Hide Abuse? Michael Volpe (CDN)
Where Footprints Lead
The sequence of events in “Footrprints in the Snow” begins with Sandra Grazzini-Rucki describing to Elizabeth Vargas an incident when David Rucki violently assaulted her. Sandra says that David broke into the house, jumped on the bed and started choking her. He also tried to suffocate her with a pillow.
What 20/20 does not say is that Sandra was so afraid of David that she later installed security cameras around her home because of his violence. Security cameras captured David stalking her on numerous occasions. Neighbors were also afraid of David due to his violent behavior, and has also installed security cameras around their own home, and filed a harassment restraining order against him.
Elizabeth Vargas, ABC 20/20 Anchor, Journalist. Source: http://88-celebrity.blogspot.com
The next scene is an image of five smiling Rucki children, taken at Christmas, posing with Santa. Sandra is standing at the left side of the picture. David is absent. The photo is not dated, nor is any context given.
Vargas says, “The children now ages 8-14 now remain in Sandra’s custody and refuse to even see David; rebuffing all of his attempts to connect.” Note” Vargas is reporting ONLY David’s perspective, that of Sandra and the children is excluded.
The next scene begins with the image of a telephone key pad, you hear the ping of numbers being dialed. Viewers are given just tiny bits of audio of David saying, “This is your Dad, call me. I would like you to call me back.” These two lines are a tiny piece of a larger body of recorded voicemail messages, and a transcript of those messages that David left for his son, Nico. The tone of these messages is clearly threatening, hostile and verbally abusive. Yet you’d never know that if you solely relied on ABC 20/20 and Vargas’ reports.: recorded voice mail messages
Vargas says in a dramatic tone, “With his children ignoring him, his frustration mounts…”
Note: Vargas adopts David’s term “frustration”. David uses this term frequently to describe his angry and abusive behavior.
Keep in mind these are children who has witnessed their father violently assault their mother and had reported numerous acts of emotional and physical abuse – leaving comments on social media, making reports to therapists, GALs, Judge Knutson, police, social workers, CPS, friends. The story that Samantha and Gianna Rucki have recounted about the abuse has not changed – those they encountered after they ran away recall that the girls appeared frightened of their father, spoke of abuse, and their behavior itself indicated abuse occurred. Multiple Witness Reports: Rucki Sisters Fearful of Father, Felt Safe at Ranch/
In another report involving abuse, CPS reports from the Rucki girls indicate they were victims of abuse from their father. And had witnessed various forms of physical and emotional abuse inflicted on their mother, and saw visible bruises. Nico also reports to CPS that his father put a gun to his head.The CPS system also failed the Rucki children by screening out multiple reports of abuse.: https://www.scribd.com/doc/316692570/SamiRucki
CPS screened out many of the reports of abuse. Other professionals ignored or minimized the children’s cries for help. And then Sandra became the target – instead of investigating the abuse, Sandra was wrongly accused of brainwashing her children so they would invent allegations of abuse against their father. The message in this – the children are being told their concerns are not valid, and that something is wrong with them for reporting abuse.