Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Sentenced – Kathryn Keena Breaks Promise to Runaway Teen


Sept. 21, 2016 – Sandra Grazzini-Rucki prepared this statement to be read by her family law attorney after sentencing.

Sept. 21, 2016, Dakota County, Minnesota: A sign posted outside the courthouse by a religious group read. “When will the suffering end?

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was sentenced today for her role in assisting her teenage daughters, who ran away from their paternal aunt, and the influence of their abusive father, in April 2013. A jury found Sandra guilty of 6 charges of felony deprivation of parental rights after Judge Karen Asphaug suppressed 75% of defense evidence. Sandra raised the affirmative defense, meaning her actions were taken to protect her children from imminent harm. The evidence suppressed supported claims of abuse. Other evidence was withheld from Sandra and her attorney by the State. Many claim this was a “rigged trial”.

Prosecuting Attorney Kathryn M. Keena sought an aggravated sentence against Sandra, which meant she would be given a much harsher sentence than what guidelines allow. Aggravated sentences are usually reserved for severe crimes like deviant sexual crimes, terrorism and repeat offenders. Keena had to drop her motion for aggravated sentencing because the charges did not meet the legal standards. Sandra has no prior criminal history and has complied with all the terms of her release while out on bond. She also has credit for 133 days spent in jail. Keena Drops Aggravated Sentence

Judge Karen J Asphaug

Judge Karen J Asphaug

However, Judge Asphaug found a way to manipulate the legal system in order to give Sandra a much harsher sentence. The sentence includes 6 years of probation, double the usual sentence – Judge Asphaug ruled that paternal aunt Tammy Love is also a “victim” in this crime. In addition, Judge Asphaug stretched out the sentence over 6 years to include a 15 day sentence every year, commencing on November 19th when the runaway Rucki girls were found. Guidelines say the most time a defendant can serve for what Sandra is charged with is one year and one day but Judge Asphaug found a way to lengthen the sentence for 6 years. Taxpayers will bear the financial burden of this unnecessary expense; and a bed in jail will be taken by Sandra who poses no risk to society, while a more serious offender is denied what they deserve.

Judge Asphaug also ruled that Sandra must pay several heavy fines. The law states that if the fines are not paid the judge can order additional penalty, which may include jail time. The fines include: $10,000 restitution to the Crime Board to cover costs for reunification therapy with an abusive father (reunification therapy is controversial, and not widely approved of by psychologists), undetermined costs to pay for therapy for the children, and two $944 dollar fines plus $80 court fees. Not to mention the costs for probation. Court records indicate that Sandra is currently receiving state aid, she was formerly employed as a flight attendant until jailed and extradited to Minnesota. With 6 felonies on her record, Sandra will certainly have difficulty finding employment, and have difficulty maintaining employment if forced to go to jail for 15 days every year plus other restrictions imposed by the terms of release. That being said, it would be very unlikely that Sandra could afford the fines, which may result in further jail time beyond her sentence. Judge Asphaug also ordered Sandra to sentence to serve, and if she does not comply, she would face additional jail time beyond her sentence. In effect, an aggravated sentence was imposed on Sandra by Judge Asphaug and Prosecutor Keena, who found a way to manipulate the legal system to exact a punishment that goes well beyond the guidelines for this crime.

Assistant Dakota County Attorney, Kathryn Keena

Assistant Dakota County Attorney, Kathryn Keena

Kathryn Keena admitted in court that she “made a promise” to S. Rucki and said to the teen that she “will not request any additional jail time and will keep that request”.  Judge Asphaug interrupted and said the “Court did not engage in promises” and she is “learning of it for the first time today“.  Making a “promise” with a vulnerable, traumatized teen is unethical and an abuse of power. It also gives the appearance that Keen bribed S. Rucki to testify – meaning she told S. Rucki that if you testify against your mother, I “promise” not to seek any additional jail time for her. Kathryn Keena unapologetically broke her promise to S. Rucki today. Keena has taken her place in the long line of Dakota County court officials who have violated the trust, and exploited the Rucki children.

Another interesting moment at sentencing was the lengthy “victim impact” statement read by David Rucki that included, “the woman in court today is not the woman I married 25 years ago – the woman I married suddenly became who she is now, a convicted felon“. Rucki elaborated about the pain he experienced in the 944 days his teen daughters went missing.

The police reports, CPS reports, witness statements, need for repeated reunification therapy because the children showed signs of fear towards Rucki (and raised abuse allegations) and even a letter from Dr. Gilbertson to the Court all illustrate the pain, terror and abuse Rucki inflicted on Sandra and the children. To believe that Sandra alienated not only her children but alienated so many people to turn against David Rucki is not only improbable but ridiculous.

When David is talking about his pain, and eliciting public sympathy, consider this…

G was interviewed on 11/23/15. She reports dad was always screaming at mom. Neighbors called the house the ‘Scream House’. She thought her home situation was normal as she didn’t know any different… Her dad would stalk the house when they were with mom.  He showed anger like ‘I’m gonna kill you’. She got no hugs growing up…”   Rucki CPS Reports

There are two prevailing emotional themes that these children speak to: One is fear of being in the presence of their father  given what they allege to he being an angry and violent person. A second theme is anger over his alleged mistreatment...It is my opinion that the children’s fear issue needs to be addressed directly, and that can happen when there is exposure to the specifically feared object, situation, or person, i.e.  father…

I would work with Mr. Rucki to have him present a certain structure and accounting of his own behavior while the family was intact that would acknowledge the volatile family history and express his empathy for the children’s painful memories..” Dr. Gilbertson Letter to GAL Julie Friedrich – Feb. 6, 2013

Dr. James Gilbertson, PhD

Dr. James Gilbertson, PhD

Q (Kelli Coughlin): So how has it been since you’ve been back home?

A. (S. Rucki) I work 40 hours a week.

Q. Ok

A. Otherwise I am in my room or I am out.

Q. Do you feel secluded?

A. I am going to move out as soon as I can start driving and get money saved up. I can’t be around this anymore.” Kelli Coughlin, Lakeville PD, interview with S. Rucki

Dakota County and the State of Minnesota has not only sentenced Sandra but their ruling has condemned every abused woman, and every abused child in family court. A clear message is being sent – if you talk about abuse, you will not be believed and you may lose custody, lose your home, lose your career and your freedom. This tragedy could have been prevented had Judge Knutson and the family court system appropriately responded to the concerns of abuse, and intervened early on. Instead the court’s actions enabled abuse to continue to the point where the home was so unsafe that 4 out of 5 children threatened to run away and two succeeded in running away. 

After sentencing, attorney Michelle MacDonald (Sandra’s family law attorney) read a statement that Sandra had prepared ahead of time. The statement said, in part, “For the last 5 years, I have had to endure the loss of my children (all 5 are named). They alone are my world…And now I’m paying the price for what any parent would do for their children – protect them from harm.”

Sandra is now in custody; ironically it is only behind bars that she is truly safe from David Rucki. Sandra is expected to appeal.

Dakota County Judicial Center

Dakota County Judicial Center


11 thoughts on “Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Sentenced – Kathryn Keena Breaks Promise to Runaway Teen

  1. Anyone who actually reads the full transcript of the interview with the oldest daughter will see that what she was very tired of and seeking to get away from is the everlasting drama and particularly having her business being discussed online. Further, despite her mother having abandoned her for “a very long time” in her words, she was not eager to contribute to her being sent to prison.


    • There was actually an interview done with both of the Rucki sisters in November 2015 after they were found. An excerpt has been published on Lion News.

      “On 11-18-15 I assisted Detective Dronen in executing a search warrant at the White Horse Ranch in Herman, MN. Detective Dronen first made contact at the White Horse Ranch with the US Marshall and once the girls were found, he notified us immediately. … I sat with S and G Rucki while plans were being made to bring them back to Dakota County. … Both girls made it very clear to me that if they were forced to go with their dad, they would run again. The girls told me they had bad experiences with the therapist they were mandated to see before they ran. They also told me the guardian ad litem was never concerned about their thoughts or feelings. They said the guardian ad litem asked them questions about where their mom was hiding her money and wanted to know if she was putting the money overseas. The girls stated no one ever listened to them.” LAKEVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT CASE/INCIDENT NUMBER 13001278 SUPPLEMENT REPORT INV ASSIGNED SENT TO County Attorney RECORD STATUS Pending DATE PROCESSED 11/23/15


    • Second – Sandra raised the affirmative defense, meaning she took action to protect her children from imminent mental or physical harm. Sandra has also claimed that she was being stalked by David Rucki, this is validated by evidence not allowed in at her trial. This was validated by comments of the same the Rucki sisters made to a social worker after being found. Also a GPS tracking device tracing back to Rucki’s home was found on a car belonging to a friend of Sandra. David Rucki also admitted to watching, surveillance the home of another friend.

      That being said – if Sandra was concerned for the safety of her children, and knew that her abusive ex was following her and watching her and driving around her home all hours of the day and night… it would make sense that she had no contact with her own children (if that is what happened). If Sandra were to call or go to the Ranch or meet her girls, their lives could be in danger (a guess based on the evidence reviewed).

      Margo (or anyone else) might not agree with what Sandra did but if you consider her intentions, and what the affirmative defense actually entails, that would explain the lack of contact. It also does not make sense that a mother who continued to fight through the legal system for her children, all the way up to the Supreme Court, would “abandon” her children.


      • The problem with SGR’s affirmative defense is that it relied on accusations that have previously been tried and settled. She doesn’t get a second bite at the apple at trying to retry those issues in this venue.


      • Margo – Including the statute for the Affirmative Defense below. The Affirmative Defense is not based on what a court has tried or settled, it is based on the “reasonable belief” of the person being charged. That reasonable belief is communicated to the jury through evidence, witness testimony and showing a pattern of abuse or concerns. Judge Asphaug suppressed so much evidence that SGR could not raise a defense – it was up to the jury to decide if she met that standard.

        Second – issues of abuse raised after the Girls were found in November 2015, and the following investigative reports, were never part of family court proceedings.

        Subd. 2.Defenses. It is an affirmative defense if a person charged under subdivision 1 proves that:
        (1) the person reasonably believed the action taken was necessary to protect the child from physical or sexual assault or substantial emotional harm;
        (2) the person reasonably believed the action taken was necessary to protect the person taking the action from physical or sexual assault;
        (3) the action taken is consented to by the parent, stepparent, or legal custodian seeking prosecution, but consent to custody or specific parenting time is not consent to the action of failing to return or concealing a minor child; or
        (4) the action taken is otherwise authorized by a court order issued prior to the violation of subdivision 1.
        The defenses provided in this subdivision are in addition to and do not limit other defenses available under this chapter or chapter 611.


    • Margo’s mom doesn’t care about David Rucki, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, or even the Rucki children. Margo’s mom only cares about advancing the cause of parental alienation. This pseudonym trolls- likely paid to do it- all over the internet writing comments which either favor the concept or in favor of the parent who is making the accusation. Margo’s mom claims to have a full time job all while having time to read thousands of pages in documents from numerous cases where they also claim they have no horse in the race. Remarkable. Fear not, if Margo’s mom has found your site someone somewhere is nervous about what is being written here.


    • The mother did what she felt she had to do to protect her girls from abuse. Did the daughter say she was the one that called her mother? Yes that’s what I heard her say a few times. Although the interviewer kept implying other wise to get her to change her story. Just like the daughter said she was pushed by her father and aunt to change her story.
      You do not sound like a caring mother. What is your agenda making stupid abtuse comments.


  2. Kathy Keena is a disgrace. You don’t say something you don’t mean to a kid who is depending on you, especially one that is so vulnerable. My advice – trust NO ONE!!!


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