REPOST CDN NEWS: Does a Recent Police Report Exonerate Sandra Grazzini-Rucki?

Does a recently found police report exonerate Sandra Grazzini-Rucki? <– READ FULL ARTICLE! 

Michael Volpe, of CDN News, reports on a newly released police report from the Lakeville P.D. that reveals that runaway teens, Samantha and Gianna Rucki, fought against returning to their father after being discovered living on a therapeutic horse ranch after going into hiding for more than 2 years. The girls decided to run away after the family court system failed to protect them from an abusive father and placed them into a custody situation they felt was unsafe.

That Samantha and Gianna threatened to run away from their father’s care AFTER being discovered by police the supports defense raised by mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, that she hid them for their safety (which is an affirmative defense). The girls demonstrated palpable fear of their father, David Rucki. It also validates the defense of Doug and Gina Dahlen who claimed both girls repeatedly threatened to run away if returned to their father, and they allowed the girls to stay on the ranch for their own safety, and that the girls were free to leave at any time but chose to stay of their own free will.

The police report, from November 21, 2015, was never seen before by Sandra who was charged with parental deprivation for her efforts to protect her daughters. As part of the discovery process, this police report should have been turned over to Grazzini-Rucki, and the 3 other defendants charged in this case.

According to Volpe: “If the Dakota County Prosecutor, whose office prosecuted the case, failed to provide this police report, this would be a “Brady violation” named after the U.S. Supreme Court Case Brady V Maryland, in which a conviction was overturned after prosecutors failed to provide exculpatory evidence, meaning, in this case, evidence favorable to the defense. In order for a legal proceeding to be just, all evidence must be shared with both sides…Ignoring Brady is not only an egregious violation of prosecutorial ethics…

Volpe goes on to say: “Given this issue, under normal circumstances, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s conviction would have been thrown out. But nothing has been normal in this case.

READ the police report for yourself –  Lakeville P.D. Supplement Report Grazzini-Rucki 11/21/2015

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom

Upon being found at a therapeutic horse ranch belonging to Doug and Gina Dahlen on 11/18/2015, the Rucki sisters told police they would run away again if returned to the care of their father, David Rucki.

According to the police report: “Samantha and Gianna came down, and immediately told us that they would not go back to their father. We told them that our first concern was their safety. I did ask them about the last time that they had heard from their mother, and they told me that they would not say anything without a lawyer.The report also indicated that Samantha has quote “issues with males”.

Arriving on scene was Detective Kelli Coughlin from the Lakeville police, who previously responded to an incident where Rucki swore and threatened a member of ex wife, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s family. The previous police report shows Rucki’s propensity towards violence, and the very real fear other people have of him. It also shows that Coughlin had knowledge of Rucki’s abuse violent behavior towards his family, and when the Lakeville P.D. pushed to return to the Rucki girls to a home they felt was unsafe, the Lakeville P.D. did so with full knowledge of the case, including abuse allegations.

The police report indicates the victim is fearful for his family and feels Rucki will follow through on his threats that include “I‘m coming after you and you won’t see me coming” and “It probably won’t be me (that will get you).” At the time of the incident, Sandra’s mother died the night before after an agonizing battle with cancer. While the family was still grieving Rucki fought to gain control of the family trust, and threatened and intimidated family members to stake a claim on something that was not legally or rightfully his. Rucki Police Report

Samantha and Gianna were assigned a social worker and also given a lawyer, both argued in court on behalf of the sisters that they their father and did not want to be placed in his care. The sisters stated they would attend therapy and not attempt to run away again if they were able to stay in foster care. Judge Michael Mayer of Dakota County denied the request, the sisters were sent to reunification therapy in rural California and then were placed backed into the custody of David Rucki, father, against their will.

Tim Kinley of “Speechless Minnesota” on Grazzini-Rucki Case: “I have never, ever seen as much corruption in our courts…as I have in this case..”

Public Domain Image: http://allswalls.com. Edited by Justice Blog.

Tim Kinley, public access host of “Speechless Minnesota”, covering issues of family law reform, judicial accountability and all levels of politics in Minnesota says he was shut down from SCC Studio in White Bear Lake because of “politics” and “they didn’t want our message out there.” After 9 months, Kinley is back and stronger than ever!

During the 1st half of an episode of “Speechless” that originally aired on 3/8/2017, Kinley provides updates on the Grazzini-Rucki case.

Kinley says about the Grazzini-Rucki case,”This case, all together, not only with the civil side of the case to the criminal side of the case, is just unbelievable! I have never, ever seen as much corruption in our courts, so systemic, so obvious, so in your face, as I have in this case….this case enters into the most amount of legal issues that I’ve seen in any case, and it is so bad…”

Topics Discussed:

*Efforts to press for an investigation of the Grazzini-Rucki case in the Legislature

*Child support issues in the Grazzini-Rucki case

*Systemic judicial corruption existing at all levels of government in Minnesota and especially the judiciary, being exposed in the Grazzini-Rucki case

*Comparing judicial disciplinary actions in two similar cases in Minnesota and Nevada

“Speechless Minnesota” with Tim Kinley

Kinley says he has been petitioning the Legislature to do a case study, and go through this case “piece by piece” on the Grazzini-Rucki case “for the purpose only of understanding how a judge interprets their laws that they are writing.. and they will find out that a judge does whatever they want.”

Kinley argues that even if the law is changed a judge will continue to “do what they want” and they only remedy is increased judicial accountability.

To illustrate his point, Kinley compares the actions of Judge David L. Knutson and former Nevada judge, Conrad Hafen in two similar cases that were handled very differently in their respective states.

Judge David L. Knuston, is the family law judge appointed to the Grazzini-Rucki case. In September 2013, during the custody trial Sandra’s attorney, Michelle MacDonald, was found in contempt of court, and placed in handcuffed after taking a picture in the courtroom, which she had gotten permission to take.

While MacDonald was detained, Sandra was told that court was dismissed and then left the courthouse, taking the files with her. MacDonald was then ordered to continue with trial, while still in handcuffs and strapped to a wheelchair, without her client being present, without case files and without her glasses or shoes. MacDonald was finally released after spending more than 24 hours behind bars without being charged, booked or allowed a phone call. Lawyer Allegedly Tortured For Doing Her Job

Judge Knutson was never held accountable – federal lawsuits against him are dismissed under the guise of immunity, and The Board on Judicial Standards refuses to investigate (Knutson is now a member of the Board). In fact, Judge Knutson later filed a disciplinary complaint against Michelle MacDonald, who has been charged with making a false statement against a judge! Michelle MacDonald receives ‘minimal’ discipline

Kinley compares this incident to a case from Nevada involving disciplinary action taken against former family court judge Conrad Hafen, who has been barred for life from the court bench in Nevada as punishment for a series of courtroom confrontations, including ordering a defense attorney to be handcuffed when she wouldn’t stop arguing to keep a client out of jail. Hafen is also accused, in 3-4 separate incidents, of holding litigants in contempt of court but never making a record of that. Ex-judge banned from Nevada bench for handcuffing of lawyer

 Kinley applauds the State of Nevada for “willing to expose” out of control judges, and for enforcing judicial accountability… the same cannot be said for Minnesota.

Click on the video below to watch this riveting episode of “Speechless”

Grazzini-Rucki Case Suggests Witness Tampering, Continued Abuse of Runaway Rucki Girl

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Because the witness told investigators that her father made her change her story and her story did in fact change from previous statements, it is apparent that witness tampering occurred.” – Motion filed by the Dahlens 12/23/2016

(Dakota County, Minn): More evidence supporting that David Rucki has abused his children in the past, and continues to emotionally and psychologically abuse S.R. emerges from the criminal trial of Doug and Gina Dahlen…

Doug and Gina Dahlen, the couple who sheltered S.R. and G.R. on their therapeutic horse ranch for 2 1/2 years, filed a motion to request an evidentiary hearing regarding witness tampering on 12/23/2016 in Dakota County. (The Dahlens have since plead “guilty” for felony charges of parental deprivation under questionable circumstances).

Read the motion in it’s entirety: Dakota County accused of witness tampering in Doug and Gina Dahlen case

Doug and Gina Dahlen

Doug and Gina Dahlen

The motion was filed to request a hearing to determine whether witness tampering has occurred. The alleged witness tampering is based on David Rucki, the Lakeville P.D. and Dakota County’s treatment towards S.R. – one of the teen girls who fled after Judge David L. Knutson placed her in an unsafe environment.

Public Domain: http://chainimage.com/

Public Domain: http://chainimage.com/

THE DAHLENS: RUCKI SISTERS DISCLOSE ABUSE

The motion details the heart wrenching day that S.R. and G.R. came to the Dahlen family. In late April of 2013, both girls came to the ranch, and according to the motion,”When the girls arrived, both were very emotional, crying and appeared scared. Both girls appeared extremely fearful to the Dahlens. In fact, the Dahlens had never seen two girls so visibly and physically frightened. In essence, they were scared for their lives.

S.R. and G.R. had good reason to be afraid of David Rucki. When the girls became more comfortable with the Dahlens, they shared their fears, and painful memories. According to the motion, the girls told the Dahlens that Rucki made threats, displayed sexually inappropriate behavior, and police were called a number of times after he violated restraining orders.

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According to the Dahlens, the girls reported that they were scared of Rucki and he “had a habit of peeking in outside windows..” The Dahlens said talking about their home life, and the thought of returning to the care of their father (Rucki) made S.R. and G.R. so upset that they would shake and become physically sick “with fear and panic“.

It should be noted that S.R. exhibited the same emotional and physical symptoms as to what the Dahlens observed when she was questioned by social workers and police after she had been recovered; when making statements regarding her home life prior to the divorce, abuse and the events leading up to when she ran away. The difference is that the Dahlens correctly identified S.R.’s reaction as a traumatic response, but when S.R. was put back under the control of Dakota County the abuse cover up continued and S.R. was labelled “fragile” and in need of de-programming.

The motion states that Dahlens permitted S.R. and G.R. to stay at their Ranch because they reasonably believed that the girls were at risk for physical, sexual or emotional harm if they returned.

S.R. and her sister G.R. went into hiding, living with the Dahlens for 2 1/2 years. In an interview with ABC 20/20, Gina Dahlen says the teen girls “made a new life” for themselves on the Ranch, and they were free to leave anytime they wanted but chose to stay. While staying on the Ranch, S.R. and G.R. were home schooled. The girls did chores on the Ranch, and helped with the website – but never used the internet to contact their father or make an effort to return to Lakeville, where they lived. Dahlen says there was no effort to conceal the girls, they used their real names and went into town, socializing with others.

This is also confirmed in social worker notes, taken from an interview conducted after the S.R. and G.R. were discovered living on the Ranch in November 2015, (Social Service Records – Rucki ) “The girls appeared well cared for and like it at the (redacted).”

The social worker reports that S.R. told her,”It was so great up there.” And,”They were given hugs and love. She loves Doug and Gina and says Gina was like a mom to her.

S.R. also told the social worker about the abusive, dysfunctional home environment created by her father, David Rucki, and warned that she would run if placed back into his custody.

G.R. says this about the Dahlens,”She feels Doug and Gina gave up their lives for them. She feels at peace there, they talked about God and read the Bible. They taught her to forgive.

When asked about her father, G.R. told the social worker, “She still feels fear of dad… She does not want to live with him and she feels he still has control over her. She does not feel mom played role in her thoughts or feelings about her dad.” G.R. also stated that she will run if made to return to dad.

TRANSITIONING FAMILIES INVOLVED IN WITNESS TAMPERING?

(Note: Inquiry by Justice blog.. these comments are NOT part of the Dahlen’s motion)

It is unknown if S.R. or G.R. have attempted to run away again but it is known that the sisters were put through intensive de-programming (aka mind control) and reunification therapy at Transitioning Families, a  ranch  situated in a remote location in California. It could be argued that David Rucki’s efforts to put S.R. and G.R. in the program at Transitioning Families is a form of witness tampering.

Transitioning Families was chosen because if the girls did attempt to run away they would have no place to go. Court records state that S.R. and G.R. were both willing to attend therapy in Minnesota, and promised not to run if placed in a foster home. There was no need to send the sisters to California because they could undergo therapy in Minnesota, where they live, and where they would receive ongoing treatment (if needed). There would be no risk of running if the girls were placed in a foster home, and allowed to transition back into their lives at their own pace and comfort level.  But that didn’t happen.

Dr. Rebecca Bailey, Transitioning Families

Dr. Rebecca Bailey, Transitioning Families

Therapist Dr. Rebecca Bailey, of Transitioning Families, facilitated reunification between David Rucki and the girls. At the time of reunification, Rucki was on probation after being convicted of a violent road rage incident. Yet Bailey showed no concern for the safety of the girls, despite Rucki’s lengthy criminal record, that included being referred to anger management and psychological testing as part of probation. In an interview with a local paper, Rucki says Dr. Bailey determined that he does not pose a danger to anyone after an incident where he was kicked in the privates by a pony, and did not show signs of violence. However, that incident does not qualify as a valid psychological assessment, or involve the use of acceptable medical practices. Evidence suggests that Dr. Bailey ignored and/or dismissed abuse allegations raised by the Rucki children, as well as evidence supporting that abuse did occur. Dr. Bailey also failed to consider Rucki’s history or do a risk assessment when forcing the S.R. and G.R. (and their siblings) into reunification. The end result of the Transitioning Families program was that adults who are skilled in psychology used isolation and programming tactics to get two vulnerable, frightened teenage girls to recant abuse allegations. From the motion filed by the Dahlens (p. 5) “Intimidate can simply mean to make timidIn the Eighth Circuit, exhortations to remain loyal to one’s people or family is sufficient to support a conviction for witness tampering...”

The way testimony was taken from S.R. during the criminal trial of her mother could also be considered witness tampering. During her criminal trial, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki attempted to subpoena S.R. (who had turned 18) and G.R. to appear and testify. Grazzini-Rucki’s efforts were challenged by both David Rucki and his attorney, Lisa Elliott, and by Prosecutor Kathryn Keena. Their arguments were supported by Dr. Bailey, who wrote a letter to the Court, stating she did not feel the girls were capable of testifying and recommended that if S.R.. were to testify it should be by video only. Dr. Bailey’s letter was submitted to Judge Karen Asphaug for review. Grazzini-Rucki and her attorney were not given a copy, nor allowed to read it. Judge Asphaug agreed with the recommendation, G.R. was not allowed to testify and S.R. could testify by video only.

S.R. testified by video conferencing under extremely unusual circumstances. S.R. was out of view of the jury and present with her in the room was father, David Rucki, paternal aunt Tammy Jo Love (her fear of Love caused S.R. to run away), and both paternal grandparents and an armed bailiff. The defense attorney was limited in the questions he could ask and evidence of abuse was suppressed.

According to the motion (p. 5),”Witness tampering can be overt or subtle and includes emotional manipulation…The Minnesota Supreme Court has recognized that even ‘general or specific threats of reprisal’ would constitute witness intimidation…The Court has also acknowledged that  the mere presence of spectators in the courtroom can result in witness intimidation.

BASIS FOR THE WITNESS TAMPERING MOTION

Doug and Gina Dahlen raise a compelling, and legally sound, argument that witness tampering involving S.R. did occur.

From the time S.R. and G.R. stayed at the Ranch until their tearful good-bye, the girls have consistently told the same story about the abuse they have endured at the hands of their father, and the failure of the family court to protect them, is the reason why they ran away, to seek safety. Upon return to Rucki’s care, S.R. told law enforcement that she was  pressured and guilted to recant by her father and Tammy Love. S.R. also stated that court paperwork was “all over the house“, that the issue was constantly raised, and she could not get away from it.  When S.R. did give a statement to police, it was Rucki who drove her to the police station.

Journalist Michael Volpe has extensively researched the Grazzini-Rucki case, and has uncovered another aspect of possible witness tampering involving the same incident: David Rucki claims indigence, hires two private lawyers This article offers additional insight on the questionable interview with S.R. and police, conducted on June 30, 2016. During the interview, S.R. reveals that she had been reading about her family’s involvement with the court system on the Carver County Corruption blog. S.R. said she discovered the site after going to the library, logging onto a computer, and doing an internet search on her name.

At the time of the interview the Carver County Corruption blog had been permanently shut down. Another blogger writing about the Grazzini-Rucki case had removed articles she had written from her blog, and stopped covering the case altogether. These events happened in response to a June 7, 2016 letter written to the blog owners from a law firm employed by David Rucki. The letter implied the bloggers could face “various civil claims” against them and “litigation seeking substantial damages“. As a result, the blog articles were taken down, and S.R. was no longer able to freely access information offering another perspective on the case. It should also be noted that the Carver County Corruption blog gave S.R. a voice because it posted letters and comments she provided to the courts. In a broader perspective, shutting down the blogs has also limited the public’s access to information and documentation regarding the Grazzini-Rucki case; and attempted to make one viewpoint – that of David Rucki – the dominant source of information.

LAKEVILLE POLICE IMPLICATED IN WITNESS TAMPERING

The Dahlen motion also implicates Lakeville police in witness tampering, stating that (p. 8), “Law enforcement investigators in this case apparently avoided asking SVR questions which would develop responses favoring the affirmative defense. Anytime the possibility arose that David Rucki would be portrayed in a negative light, Detective Coughlin backed off.

During the June 30th interview, S.R. told Det. Coughlin that she was brought to the interview against her free will, and pressured and guilted into recanting abuse allegations by Rucki and Love. The pressure was so intense that S.R. began to cry.

The motion states that Det. Coughlin never asked S.R. to elaborate when speaking about issues related to abuse. And that S.R.’s statement to police shows change from the story she has consistently told prior to being recovered. S.R.’s testimony takes yet another turn in court, where claims to not have seen or remembered abuse, and stated that she was not in her right mind when speaking to police.

Perhaps the impact of reunification therapy at Transitioning Families has taken its toll? Perhaps Rucki and Love have finally crushed her spirit? What has not changed is that S.R. remains tearful, emotional and her body language indicates trauma – she shakes or curls up into a ball when questioned. And that is the tragedy of the Grazzini-Rucki case, that the court system has completely failed to protect the Rucki children from the abuse they endured and witnessed, and instead protected the abuser, to the detriment of the children.

The Dahlen motion has not only raised concerns about witness tampering but at its core, it is a statement that raises serious concerns that S.R. (and the other Rucki children) is being emotionally and psychologically abused and continue to be at risk in the care of David Rucki.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judge Karen Asphaug “Encouraged Lawlessness” Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Turns Herself in After Warrant Issued

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November 2, 2016, Washington County, Minnesota:

Dakota County issued an arrest warrant against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, in connection with an alleged probation violation for failing to maintain contact with the probation officer. Sandra voluntarily turned herself in tonight after discovering a warrant had been issued, and is now in custody.

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These sad events happened on the birthday of Sandra’s daughter, a subject of this criminal case who ran away in April 2013 from an unsafe home. The daughter has been unable to see or contact her mother in any way. – A mother who once was her primary caregiver, and whom she wanted to live with before the Courts condemned her to live with an abuser. The daughter wrote a letter stating the reason why she ran away, that included, “We fought back, begging them not to put us in the care of Tammy that we were afraid for our lives, and told them that Tammy and my father had abused us. But they didn’t care.” Another of the Rucki children also reported that Tammy abused her to the Lakeville police, who failed to make a mandatory report. Judge Karen Asphaug, and ADA Kathryn Keena are now claiming Tammy Love and David Rucki are “victims” to the detriment of the children – who are the REAL victims in this case.

The outrageous legal antics of Judge Karen Asphaug instigated these recent developments, in what can only be described as a circus – a waste of precious law enforcement resources, at tremendous expense to the tax payers of Dakota County. Many in the judicial system outside of Dakota County have expressed shock at how the Grazzini-Rucki case has been mishandled, and expressed concern over the amount of power a judge can exert over people’s lives, and how easily that power can be abused.

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Dakota County Circus

Under Minnesota law, the maximum time allowed under sentencing guidelines for felony deprivation of parental rights is up to 1 year and 1 day in prison. Sandra stepped forward, asked to finish her sentence in prison, and complete her sentence so she can then return to her home, out of state. All avenues kids to see or maintain contact with her children have been blocked, so that is not an option for Sandra.

Supporters of David Rucki demanded that Sandra be sent to prison, multiple comments posted online demanded prison. However, during sentencing, Judge Karen Asphaug issued an unusual sentence that involves a lengthy probation period of 6 years with yearly stints in jail, in addition a yearly requirement of sentence to serve, excessive monetary fines, compliance with all 3,400 family court orders issued by Judge David L Knutson and additional conditions that are impossible to afford financially or not humanly possible to comply with.  Judge Asphaug implemented this unusual sentencing after ADA Kathryn Keena asked for an aggravated sentence but was not allowed to inflict a harsher sentence, than the law allowed, because the nature of the crime did not meet guidelines. Sandra immediately asked to execute her sentence, as this was the only feasible option, and later was given a hearing.

Assistant Dakota County Attorney, Kathryn Keena

Assistant Dakota County Attorney, Kathryn Keena

The cost to tax payers to for the cost to jail Sandra, and enforce a lengthy probation is astronomical. According to a recent study, “...The average annual income of every Minnesota resident is roughly equal to the average annual cost per inmate in our prison system.”  Average Annual Cost of Minnesota Prisons: $41,364 Per Inmate in 2010 by Jay Carey

The expenses incurred on Sandra alone could easily double that figure, and would be better spent elsewhere in the criminal justice system. Sandra Grazzini-Rucki poses no danger to society, and is willing to do her time in prison and complete her sentence. The only obstacle to a resolution in this case is Judge Asphaug, who insists on a punishment that is both cruel and unusual.

If Sandra were to be jailed in the Ramsey County Workhouse, the cost is paid for by the tax payers of Dakota County. The cost to house an inmate in the Workhouse is an estimated $70 per day, already Sandra has served 170 days there – so far Dakota County spent close to $12,000 to incarcerate her. If Judge Karen Asphaug sends Sandra back to the Workhouse she could waste up to $17,000+ of Dakota County tax payer’s money. However, if Sandra were allowed to execute,and were sent to prison the cost wound be reimbursed through federal funding, and the case would be quickly resolved. All of these extraordinary measures are directed toward a non-violent offender who poses no risk to the community. Sandra’s only “crime” is protecting her children from abuse after multiple levels of the system (family court, police, court ordered therapy, CPS, juvenile court/CHIPS petition etc.) ignored the Rucki children’s cries for help.

The family court system, led by Judge Knutson, used force and intimidation to order the Rucki children into the custody of the abusive father, who they feared.  The abuse that happened is effectively being covered up. 

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Sandra’s former criminal attorney, Stephen Grigsby, previously argued for an executed sentence during the September 21st hearing– meaning Sandra would serve her entire sentence in jail. Grigsby stated to the court, that refusing her this right would “encourage lawlessness” and “dare” Sandra to violate probation.

The defendant in the above-entitled matter hereby moves the Court to execute her sentence.

ARGUMENT

Not withstanding the provisions of 609.135, subd. 7, which purports to deny the defendant the right to execute a sentence, the right inheres in the basic ability of a defendant to demand, either by a formal demand or a deliberate violation of probation.

The latter (violation of probation) encourages lawlessness and wastes time and resources.

Eventually a probationer can assure the execution of a sentence by refusing to comply with probation and it therefore makes no sense to dare her to do so when there is a desire to refuse to comply with probation and serve her executed sentence.”

Attorney Stephen Grigsby, Motion to Execute (Sandra Grazzini-Rucki), 9/21/2016

During the hearing, Judge Asphaug waltzed into court, waving a paper to show that she had found a case that would justify her reasons to refuse prison. She promptly imposed probation on Sandra.The case cited did not match any of the circumstances in the Grazzini-Rucki criminal trial. Judge Asphaug then denied the motion to execute her sentence. Grigsby responded, “This was really an irrational act by the court.”

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Judge Karen Asphaug

If Sandra had been allowed to execute her sentence, she would serve up to 8 months in prison, and then be released having completed her sentence. Isn’t that the purpose of the criminal justice system? Have a defendant serve their time, and return to society as a law abiding citizen? What Judge Asphaug is doing is NOT promoting justice.

After sentencing, Sandra was immediately taken into custody, and served an additional 34 days in the Workhouse then was released into probation on October 24th. Allegations of a probation violation followed soon after.

Sandra’s criminal conviction resulted after Sandra courageously fought to protect her children from abuse. When the courts, CPS, and police failed to protect them, two of the oldest Rucki girls ran away. Sandra’s role in assisting her teen daughters is not an act of a criminal – but is the actions of a mother who “reasonably believed the action taken was necessary to protect the person taking the action from physical or sexual assault” and raised this affirmative defense during her criminal trial. Minn. Statute 609.26 – Includes Affirmative Defense Judge Asphaug suppressed 75% of defense evidence, blocking Sandra from presenting the affirmative defense to the jury, that would prove abuse did occur.

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki is not a hardened criminal, not a danger to society or to anyone else. Just the opposite – Sandra is a loving mother of 5 children, was an active volunteer at school events and PTA, was an enthusiastic community volunteer (working on projects throughout the state of Minnesota) who was always willing to help others with a generous and sincere heart, former Mrs. Lakeville and a respected flight attendant of 30+ years with a spotless record.

Sandra’s life has been completely destroyed after seeking a divorce from a wealthy, well-connected abuser, David Rucki, who has misused the court system to further abuse her, and exact revenge. Everything Sandra loved, everything that was important to her life, has been brutally taken from her – her children, her extended family, her home, all of her belongings (even her clothing and toiletries taken by court order), her financial stability, her career – and now her freedom. This all started with a divorce, in which a victim of domestic violence asked for protection for herself and her children but instead was re-abused by the system that favored, and enabled the perpetrator, who continues to abuse through the legal system. 

Sandra, is well-loved and respected in the community, she does not deserve the harsh punishment meted out by Judge Asphaug and Dakota County. Sandra is not a criminal. She an abuse survivor who was pushed into making a heart-breaking decision after the court system and legal system failed to protect her children…the system continues to fail the Grazzini-Rucki family today.

 

Also Read:

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki is sentenced in domestic case by Michael Volpe

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Sentenced After Judge Asphaug Disallows Nearly All of Defense Evidence

Minnesota mom chooses prison for hiding 2 teen daughters

Keena Drops Aggravated Sentence Against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki

 

 

Judge Karen Asphaug: 6 Years for Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, 60 Days for MMA Fighter Who Brutally Beat Wife

Dakota Co. Courthouse

Dakota County Judge Karen Asphaug, along with County Attorney Jim Backstrom, endorsed a much harsher sentence for Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, a domestic violence survivor who assisted her children from running away from an environment they felt was unsafe, than a sentence (previously) issued to Brett Rogers, a MMA Fighter who brutally beat his wife in front of their two terrified children.

 

Cruel & Unusual Punishment: Grazzini-Rucki Case

Ironically, the escalation of the Grazzini-Rucki divorce, and the Brett Rogers assault both occurred in June 2011. However, the way these two cases were handled by Judge Asphaug, and Jim Backstrom couldn’t be more different.

County Attorney James Backstrom

County Attorney James Backstrom

In 2011, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki divorced an abusive husband, David Rucki, and sought to rebuild her life, and that of her children. In family court, she entered a legal minefield that would leave her homeless, without children, and financially devastated. Even worse, Judge David Knutson, and the court professionals, refused to listen to abuse allegations raised by Sandra and the children; even as Rucki continued to stalk and terrorize the family.  The failures of the court system, Judge Knutson specifically, and the mishandling of abuse allegations created a crisis that resulted in Sandra being in jail today, convicted of felony deprivation of parental rights.

By all counts, the interventions of Judge Knutson, and the family court professionals, had a traumatic and disastrous effect on the Grazzini-Rucki family, especially the children. Judge Knutson dismissed concerns of abuse and pushed for reunification even as David Rucki was violating protective orders, and his children expressed fear of him due to his violent behavior. It was the opinion of court-appointed therapist Dr. Gilbertson that the children needed to be “desensitized” to the “object of their fear, father” and that by forcing a face-to-face visit, and forcing the children to sit in during court hearings would facilitate a better relationship with their father. Instead, the Court’s actions increased the children’s fear, especially when Rucki was not held accountable for his abuse – such as violating a no-contact order with the children, and chasing one of the children (and her friends) down the street.In September 2012, Sandra was forcibly removed from her home, and from her children’s lives – the children begged to live with their mother, their cries went unheard.

In April 2o13, the situation had escalated to a crisis, when Judge Knutson ruled that the children would be placed in the temporary custody of David Rucki’s sister (and by extension, the children would be under his control, as the aunt maintained frequent contact, and followed his direction). The children expressed they did not feel safe with the aunt, and raised allegations that she mistreated them. In April 2013; after the courts failed to protect them from abuse, two of the Rucki girls ran away. In a panic, the girls called Sandra, begging for help. Sandra admits to helping them, stating, “I did what any parent would do… protect them from harm“. The runaway Rucki girls went missing for two years before being found in November 2015, living on a therapeutic horse ranch with a couple who specializes in working with vulnerable, at-risk children.  Criminal charges against those involved in their disappearance, including Sandra, followed.

In July 2016, Sandra’s criminal trial was held before Judge Asphaug at the Dakota County Judicial Center.  During trial, Sandra raised the affirmative defense, meaning her actions were taken to protect her children from physical or substantial emotional harm. Judge Asphaug suppressed 75% of defense evidence, meaning the jury did not hear a majority of evidence proving abuse, and did not hear from several witnesses, and a domestic violence expert who would have been called.  Further, to raise the affirmative defense, Sandra had to prove, “the person reasonably believed the action taken was necessary to protect the child from physical or sexual assault or substantial emotional harm..” Withholding evidence, and limiting what the defense could present, did not allow the Defense to present context in which Sandra acted, and her state of mind or “reasonable belief” could  to the jury.  Allegations of prosecutorial misconduct have also been raised as contributing to Sandra’s conviction. Critics argue Sandra’s trial was “rigged” and set up to fail.

Subsequently, Sandra was found guilty on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights, and sentenced in September 2016.  With time served, Sandra was expected to serve no more than one year and one day in jail.

However, Prosecutor Kathryn M. Keena wanted to give Sandra an aggravated sentence, meaning harsher than the law allowed. Aggravated sentences are usually reserved for the most severe crimes – drug smuggling, repeat offenders, serial killers etc. Since Sandra’s case did not meet the standards necessary to impose an aggravated sentence, Judge Asphaug manipulated the legal system to stretch out the sentence to involve short jail stays stretching over 6 years. The sentence also includes yearly stints in sentence to serve and 6 years of probation as well as hefty fines. Failure to meet the conditions of probation could result in additional jail time. Sandra filed a motion to execute her sentence, meaning spend all of her time in jail up front, and avoid probation. That motion was denied by Judge Asphaug in October 2016.  What is being done to Sandra is clearly is cruel and unusual punishment – the punishment is more severe than the crime merits, and will cause undue hardship that will challenge Sandra’s ability to re-enter society (for example – it is difficult enough for a felon to gain employment, let alone a person with 6 felonies, and who is required to return to jail every year AND if she fails to perform sentence to serve, additional jail time will be issued).

The unusual harshness of Sandra’s punishment, is more clearly seen when comparing this case to another criminal case, involving domestic violence, that was also presided over by Judge Asphaug. This case differs in that it involves a perpetrator, found guilty of a violent crime, who received a plea deal and even after re-offending, avoided the wrath Judge Asphaug has inflicted on Sandra.

Public Domain: https://pixabay.com

Public Domain: https://pixabay.com

Brett Rogers: “Night of Horror”

Compare  Judge Asphaug’s harsh treatment of Sandra Grazini-Rucki to the sentence imposed on Brett Rogers for domestic assault, and you will see a man who brutally beat his wife was given a more lenient sentence than a mother who sought to protect her children from abuse.

In November 2011, Brett “Da Grim” Rogers, a heavyweight mixed martial artist, was sentenced to 60 days in jail after brutally beating his wife, T.R., in front of his two daughters. Judge Asphaug described the incident as a “night of horror“. With time served, Rogers would serve no more than 2 weeks in jail.

Brett Rogers Booking Photo

Brett Rogers Booking Photo – 2011

The incident happened on June 28th, a neighbor called police after witnessing Rogers punch his wife, T.R., as she lay on the ground outside their house. The neighbor noticed blood was streaming down her face. During the attack, T.R.  lost consciousness. T.R. sustained multiple injuries including a broken jaw, a tooth was knocked out, a “golf ball size lump” above her eyebrow, among other injuries. Rogers said the assault was just a “misunderstanding“.

The two children reported that they were afraid to go home, and that their father had previously choked them. One of the children attempted to intervene, but was helpless to save her mother. The children spent the night at a neighbor’s home while their mother was rushed to the hospital.

Rogers plead guilty to felony third-degree assault. As part of a plea deal, two felonies of domestic assault by strangulation and stalking were dismissed, as well as a gross misdemeanor charge of endangering a child. Rogers was also ordered to 3 years probation, and to complete a domestic abuse program. Jim Backstrom was instrumental in the deal offered to Rogers.

Rogers violated the conditions of his probation just a few weeks after release by contacting T.R., and by pushing a man at a local restaurant. Several other charges were to follow over the following years… probation violations, violations to a no-contact order, felony domestic assault and DWI. Rogers has struggled to rebuild his life, though he claims he will be a better man.

asphaug-1

Judge Karen Asphaug

Both of these cases were presided by  Judge Asphaug, and both involve incidents related to domestic violence. Domestic violence has significantly affected both families, and their children in different ways. The resulting criminal charges against is indicative of Judge Asphaug’s personal views of their circumstances (including her knowledge or understanding of domestic violence), and perception of the offender – and suggests her sentencing of Sandra may be motivated by a political agenda, because it is so radically beyond the usual sentence imposed. And so beyond even the sentence given to a domestic abuse offender.

After convicted of a violent assault, even after re-offending, and continued legal troubles, Brett Rogers has served minimal jail time. He continues to fight professionally. And is allowed to have contact with his children. He is moving on with his life.

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki has no previous criminal history, and was given extensive jail time and probation (with no possibility of early release) though her crime was not violent in nature, and she poses no harm to anyone. What makes the jail time extensive, and the punishment unusual is that Judge Asphaug has manipulated the legal system to extend the sentence far beyond what the law normally allows.  Some speculate that Judge Asphaug, and Dakota County, will continue to find ways to punish Sandra, even find reasons to jail her long after her time has been served.

Brett Rogers, found guilty of felony assault, who is alleged to have abused his own children, and has a lengthy criminal history has been given a lesser sentence, even after re-offending than Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, an abuse victim who fought to protect her children legally. When the court system failed, Sandra was forced to make an agonizing choice that ultimately resulted in complete estrangement from her children, and now a felony conviction resulting in jail time.

How is this justice?

Sources:

Brett Rogers –

Brett Rogers Hit With Restraining Order After Menacing St Paul Neighbor

MMA fighter Brett Rogers gets 60 days in jail for beating wife at Apple Valley home

MMA fighter sentenced to 60 days after beating wife in Apple Valley home

MMA fighter Brett Rogers again arrested for violating parole

 

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki-

Minnesota: 609.26 DEPRIVING ANOTHER OF CUSTODIAL OR PARENTAL RIGHTS.

Pressured, Threatened S Rucki Bravely Speaks Out Against “Horrendous” Family Court

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Sentenced in Domestic Case

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Sentenced After Judge Asphaug Disallows Nearly All of Defense Evidence

As reported by Michael Volpe, CDN News. Read full story at: Sandra Grazzini-Rucki is sentenced in domestic case by Michael Volpe, CDN News
HASTINGS, Minnesota, September 23, 2016- “Sandra Grazzini-Rucki has been sentenced to six years’ probation and an extra one hundred and eight days in jail for her role in her two daughters’ running away.
sentencingsgr

Judge Asphaug imposed the unusual sentence after disallowing nearly all of the evidence Grazzini-Rucki intended to use in support of her affirmative defense. Grazzini-Rucki argued that she hid her daughters to protect them from an unsafe environment.

Judge Karen J Asphaug

Judge Karen J Asphaug

The criminal record of Grazzini-Rucki’s ex-husband, David Rucki including a bar fight, road rage incident, numerous incidents of stalking and numerous violations of orders for protection, were all disallowed.

Child Protection reports, including one made by Nico Rucki in which he claimed his father held a gun to his head, were also disallowed.…”

This article by Michael Volpe discusses the allegations of abuse raised by Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and children, and describes the dramatic events leading up to the disappearance of the Rucki sisters.  It also includes Sandra’s full statement, to be read by her family law attorney, after sentencing.

Volpe attempted to contact numerous sources for comment including Judge Asphaug, Beau Berentson public affairs officer for the Minnesota courts, the Lakeville police, the Dakota County Prosecutor’s office, attorney Lisa Elliott and others, who did not respond.

Volpe also attempted to contact reporter Brandon Stahl to ask several questions about the case – including asking Stahl why he has declined to write about Rucki’s extensive criminal history, and declined to write about S. Rucki’s June 30, 2016 interview with police.

Volpe reports: “In that interview Samantha Rucki said she was pressured into recanting by her father, running away was her idea, and she reiterated her father was an abuser .

She recanted when called as a witness saying she ran away to get away from the divorce but Judge Asphaug refused to allow her June 30 interview into evidence at Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s trial.” In the June 30 interview with police, S. Rucki said she was pressured and “guilted” into recanting by Rucki and Tammy Jo Love.

During the criminal trial, Judge Asphaug took the unusual move to have S. Rucki testify by Skype, and out of view of the jury. David Rucki, paternal aunt Tammy Jo Love, grandmother Vicki Rucki, and attorney Lisa Elliott, were all in the room but remained out of view of the jury.  Judge Asphaug also limited the questions the Defense was allowed to ask, thereby making their defense ineffective.

Dakota County Judicial Center

Dakota County Judicial Center

 

Why Hasn’t Lori Musolf Been Charged for her Role in Assisting Runaway Rucki Sisters?

cropped-teddywood.jpg

Dakota County, Minn: A repost from Red Herring Alert raises questions as to why self proclaimed “advocate” and “investigator” Lori Musolf has NEVER been charged for her role in assisting the runaway Rucki sisters. WITH ADVOCATES LIKE THESE. . .

During David Rucki’s victim impact statement at the sentencing of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki he stated (paraphrase) that if “Sandy” had just made a call or done something right away, the Girls could have been returned right away, avoiding years of suffering. The same could be said for Lori Musolf who had extensive conversations with the runaway Rucki sisters in the days after their disappearance. Musolf also arranged the interview, and acted as a go between, for the Rucki sisters to appear on Fox 9 with Trish van Pilsum.

Judge Karen Asphaug, Prosecutor Kathryn Keena and the Lakeville police have all taken a tough stance on Sandra as well as Dede Evavold and the Dahlens – why, then, are they allowing Lori Musolf to go free with no punishment?

Judge Karen Asphaug (Twitter)

609.26 Depriving Another of Custodial or Parental Rights Subdivision 1. Prohibited acts. Whoever intentionally does any of the following acts may be charged with a felony and, upon conviction, may be sentenced as provided in subdivision 6:

… 8) causes or contributes to a child being a runaway as defined in section 260C.007, subdivision 28, and is at least 18 years old and more than 24 months older than the child…

Has Dakota County made a deal with Lori Musolf or what ??? The public deserves to know…

Assistant Dakota County Attorney, Kathryn Keena

Excerpts from interview with Detective Dronen and Lori Musolf: 

Detective Dronen:  Let me ask you something along those lines when the girls first went missing on the 19th of April.

Lori: I think I’ve got the timelines figured out when we interviewed (referring to Fox9 interview of the girls). I believe I had gotten a call that night that they were gone and I believe that was a Friday night. Things have just been triggering memories for me when I read stuff like, you know I’ll read through these stories and everything else and I actually talked to Trish and I think I’ve got the timeline figured out. So they went missing Friday night they called me on Saturday the next day because we tried to set up the interview for Saturday but we could not find a photographer that would work the weekend. We didn’t interview them till Monday morning, my husband was home during that time too and we are trying to get everything figured out. So I figure it was between Saturday and Sunday that we talked on the phone and it was either Sunday or Monday we did the interview. (Reports show that Musolf had numerous conversations with the Rucki sisters in the days after they ran away, a direct result of Judge Knutson awarding temporary custody to an aunt who the sisters claim is abusive, under her care the sisters knew their abusive father would have access to them).

AND

Lori: (After the interview with sisters, S and G Rucki) “I left and went straight to St. Cloud and Dede and Sam were already there so I knew they didn’t have those girls. They were already at the hotel when we got there, they were waiting in the parking lot.”

Detective Dronen. Source: https://redherringalert.wordpress.com, sunthisweek

Also interesting – Lori Musolf is NOT a supporter of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, in fact, she openly criticizes her. Musolf has no reason and no agenda to say or do anything that would support Sandra, Which makes Musolf even more credible when she states that she believes that domestic violence occurred in the Rucki, believes that the Girls were abused and that she herself is afraid of David. Potential State Witness Wrote Letter to Judge Knutson – Criticizing Court’s Failure to Protect Rucki Children from Abuse

Statements from Musolf about the #grazzinirucki case:

I have no doubt that the judge (Knutson) is corrupt as the day is long, that’s why I got involved. There’s no denying the shit she had to go through in the courtroom…”

“She felt like he would kill her if he had the chance.”

“I don’t trust David and I do think the man is dangerous…”

Source: WITH ADVOCATES LIKE THESE. . .