Did Detective Dronen Use Coercion, Fraud to Elicit A Statement in Grazzini-Rucki Case?

Public Domain: http://absfreepic.com

Public Domain: http://absfreepic.com

Small town, Lakeville police, traveled an estimated 191 miles one chilly day, November 18, 2015, to a horse ranch in a quiet corner of Minnesota. Greeting them in the gravel driveway were Star Tribune reporters, who had been waiting 3 hours to break the biggest story their podunk paper had seen since the 1991 Halloween Blizzard covered trick-or-treaters in 8.2 inches of ghostly white snow. Star Tribune cameras were on the scene to catch every dramatic minute as the runaway Rucki sisters were discovered after a multi-agency search warrant.

Even outside their jurisdiction, Detective Jim Dronen and Kelli Coughlin were territorial over this case – that of the runaway Rucki sisters, who went missing in April 2013 to escape an abusive home that family court would not protect them from. These two detectives would accomplish what Judge Knutson could not do despite 3,400 court orders issued against the mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, who was left homeless, destitute and torn from the children who were “my world” after the court’s illegal actions. What reunification therapist James Gilbertson tried but failed at, as he recommended “unconventional” methods of therapy such as forcing the children to sit in at court hearings, and forcing the children to have a face-to-face visit with their father the day he was due in court for violating a no contact order (no contact meaning with the children). What Guardian ad Litems Julie Friedrich and Laura Miles attempted by denying the abuse and shoving the truth down their throats, as they gagged – these children were going back into the care of their abusive father.

Was the interrogation method used on Doug Dahlen coercive, fraudulent? And were coercive methods used on the teenage Rucki sisters? A new video from Lion News offer a glimpse into the interrogation of Doug Dahlen.

Police can use a variety of methods to get information or elicit a confession – they can lie, exaggerate and even use some forms of trickery to obtain information from a subject, to get a confession. The one thing police can not do is coerce a confession. Coercion is defined as physical or psychological force, threats or intimidation. Similarly, trickery that results in a false confession is not allowed.

The Lion News Video (below) offers excerpts of the police interviews from the Rucki investigation, as well as an excerpt of a police interview between Detective Dronen (#4816) and Doug Dahlen that occurred on November 18, 2015.

Doug is one of the defendants in the high-profile Grazzini-Rucki case, who, along with his wife, sheltered the runaway Rucki girls at his therapeutic horse ranch for over 2 years.

This interview occurred AFTER the Rucki girls were found living at the Ranch.

dougginadahlen

Doug and Gina Dahlen

(4:11) Doug Dahlen calls wife, Gina, “Hello… Hey.. Did you get my message? Can you come home? Um police are here and they’re talking about what they’re going to do with the Girls. They can stay here ’til get this sorted out or whether they have to go and stay somewhere else or what. They um the mom’s in jail and they’re saying if the Girls go in and take care of this, that they can get their mother out of jail and uh hopefully get this straightened out. As of now I don’t really think they know what they’re going to do with them…

COERCION: A person who has power over another compels someone to act or make a choice by force, threat or overcoming their own individual will. Coercion can involve fraud to compel someone to do something they would not ordinarily do.

It is coercive to tell Doug Dahlen, and the Girls (if they were given a similar message) that if they “straighten this out” i.e. talk to police, and tell police what they want to hear, that their mother (Sandra Grazzini-Rucki) can get out of jail. Another implied threat is the unanswered question on where the Girls will go – that cooperation may result in the Girls being able to stay at the Ranch. Notice also that Doug is talking to police without the benefit of an attorney.

Both of the Rucki sisters were minors at the time they were found, and were in a vulnerable state. For the last 2 years, the Girls considered the Dahlens as family, and grew accustomed to their life on the Ranch. The Girls had ample opportunity to leave, and return to their father, but chose to stay. Now these Girls were losing their home – for a second time in their life, a traumatic upheaval (the first when Sandra was forced out of the home, and their lives in Sept. 2012). Where were the Girls going – they could not stay with the Dahlens, and threatened to run away if returned to father, David Rucki, That is what makes this coercive – applying pressure, and compelling testimony under duress; especially on vulnerable teen girls. The fraud is stating that testimony could get Sandra Grazzini-Rucki out of jail, that simply would not happen, and police knew it.

NO child should be placed in this type of situation by police. There are organizations that specialize in conducting forensic interviews with children and vulnerable adults that could have been utilized. These organizations typically offer family counseling and community resources as well. An age appropriate, trauma informed approach could have assisted the police investigation in a way that would minimize stress on the Girls, and allow them to be heard. But that never happened. Instead the Lakeville police pushed their agenda… and silenced the Girls as so many in Dakota County had done before.

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

Another element of psychological coercion… and testimony from Doug that supports the Girls were abuse victims.

(5:58) Detective Dronnen states, “You said when the girls first got here, they were afraid?”

Doug, “Beyond afraid. They were terrified. I’ve never seen a kid so scared. I can’t emphasize that to you… I’ve seen kids in pretty rough shape, I’ve never seen one that was truly afraid for their life until I saw them.”

Detective Dronnen, “Did they ever tell you why they were afraid?”

Doug, “No, one time I went in and S.R. was curled up in the bathroom, in a fetal position, sobbing uncontrollably. ” <– This is called REGRESSION, and is a sign of severe trauma or abuse. Regression is the act of returning to an earlier stage of behavioral or physical development; this can occur because trauma not only affects the mind and emotion, but is also stored in the body, at a cellular level. Trauma also affects body chemistry.

Detective Dronnen, “Did she ever talk about anything that happened at home?”

Doug, “Just how terrible it was. Never gave much for details… ” Doug goes on to say S.R. did not like “being touched by a man”, even in common social interactions. <– Note S.R. may have found someone else to confide in; if she had an aversion to men it makes sense that she would not trust or open up to a man, even Doug.

In the next excerpt, Detective Dronen gives Doug Dahlen his version of what happened with the Grazzini-Rucki divorce and custody case, and omits all mention of domestic abuse and child abuse allegations or David Rucki’s criminal history. This is done intentionally! Detective Dronen is controlling the interview, and feeding information to Doug with the intent of changing his perspective, and ultimately changing testimony that may support that abuse happened to the Rucki girls.

Keep in mind Detective Dronen previously dismissed an OFP violation against David Rucki wiped it completely from MNCIS. Dronen personally knew about the abuse allegations, and purposely withheld this information when giving his version of the Grazzini-Rucki divorce and child custody dispute to Doug.

Det. Dronnen dismisses OFP against David Rucki, wipes from MNCIS. Source: https://redherringalert.wordpress.com

Det. Dronen deletes OFP violation against David Rucki, wipes from MNCIS. Source: https://redherringalert.wordpress.com

Doug sounds incredulous as he is listening, and relies on past experience to weigh Detective Dronen’s words. When Doug brings up his own experiences with a stressful divorce, Detective Dronen adapts Doug’s comments to supportive the narrative he is pushing.This means Dronen is shaping Doug’s perspective, and changing his recollection on a past event. This type of questioning is extremely damaging because Detective Dronen is feeding information, ideas and emotions into Doug that were not previously there. Doug has no one else to offer additional information, he is reliant solely on Dronen.

Detective Dronen tries to sell Doug his version of events – that parental alienation had occurred, that Sandra is mentally ill and completely withholds any information about the allegations of abuse. If this sounds plausible, you too maybe a victim of psychological coercion.

Key elements of psychological coercion involve

  1. Rejecting alternate information and individual opinions.Communication is controlled, permissible subjects and thoughts are directed. Alternate ideas or free thought is shut down or guided back into desired parameters.
  2. Forcing the victim to re-evaluate what has happened, their experience in a negative way. The victim is made to feel like a “bad” person or alternately, is made to feel bad about their experience and made to feel that adopting the chose perspective is redemptive or “good”.
  3. Controlled communication produces efforts are  to destabilize and undermine the subject’s consciousness, sense of reality, sense of self, emotions and defense mechanisms. The subject wrestles with internal questions, doubts, and then reinterprets their experience to  adopts the perspective given to them.
  4. Creating triggers in the subject by eliciting strong emotional reactions by manipulating their perspectives, and what is important to them i.e. home, family, ethical values, past experiences, past hurts, guilt, anxiety etc

Psychological coercion does not leave a bruise or a mark but it’s impact can not be underestimated.The intense pressure of psychological coercion can and does weaken a person’s will power and limit their ability to make free choices. The victim is unable to use discernment, judgement or call on help as they normally would had they not been manipulated.  According to one expert, The Neurotypical Suite, “The cumulative effect of psychological coercion can be an even more effective form of undue influence than pain, torture, drugs or the use of physical force or threats.

Police need to use the power invested in them carefully and avoid any actions or behavior that is or  could be interpreted as coercive.

Statements that are made under coercion are not made through an exercise of free will.  If Doug Dahlen – or the Rucki girls – were told by Detective Dronen, or any member of the Lakeville police, that if they “straightened things out” and gave a statement to police, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki could “get out of jail”  that is coercion. It is eliciting a statement based on fraud, and is applying duress with the underlying message of if you do not comply, she will remain in jail. To excuse this behavior as being part of the job, as policeman, opens the door to abuses of power –  abuses of power have destroyed the Grazzini-Rucki family, and if not exposed and stopped, anyone of us could become a victim next.

Note: This video include slides that are somewhat editorialized, the audio content is what applies to this article, plz use discernment.

 

 

Also Read:

Media Mayhem: Has Stahl and Brodkorb Gone Too Far Reporting on the Grazzini-Rucki Case??

Media Mayhem: Has Stahl and Brodkorb Gone Too Far Reporting on the Grazzini-Rucki Case??

Journalists should abide by ethics and standards so that their reporting is accurate, fair and does not cause undue harm to its subjects.

The Justice Blog is reposting a previous article from Red Herring Alert that offers a variety of perspectives on the Grazzini-Rucki case, including reports of behavior from reporter Brandon Stahl, and Michael Brodkorb, that suggests their handling of the Grazzini-Rucki case was unethical and exploitative. Further, Stahl and Brodkorb’s appearance at the Ranch in the hours before the Rucki girls were recovered likely caused significant anxiety and concern for the teenagers, and has directly interfered with an active police investigation. 

Red Herring Alert wrote: “Sources tell us that an unmarked vehicle with  its flashers on was the first to arrive on the scene on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, the day that law enforcement officials located S. Rucki and G. Rucki.

It is further reported to Red Herring Alert that Doug Dahlen, who lives at the home where the girls were located,  arrived home to find a vehicle with its flashers on, parked on a gravel road.  Not knowing who was in the vehicle, he stopped to inquire if the driver was OK.  The vehicle sat there for 3 hours before law enforcement arrived.  Brandon Stahl was in the vehicle and went to the door asking for an interview.  He gave Mr. Dahlen his business card, identifying himself as Brandon Stahl of the Star Tribune.

It is deeply disturbing to know how law enforcement has tipped off local media to parts of the investigation, prior to any public reports from the officials.  Isn’t it pathetic that the Star Tribune sat there for 3 hours prior to the arrival of law enforcement?  3 hours!

It is unclear if the reporters were tipped off by law enforcement or someone else. Brodkorb says about his role in discovering the whereabouts of the runaway Rucki girls, “Over the summer, my sources provided information that led me to a location near where the girls were found less than two weeks ago. I’m convinced that if I had knocked on one too many doors, I might have made it more difficult for law enforcement to find S and G.Michael Brodkorb: Why I wrote about the Rucki case

Brodkorb also says, “The contacts I had made in the political world ended up being very helpful in generating leads on the Rucki case…Michael Brodkorb: Minnesota Politics and Beyond

Another concerning incident involves Michael Brodkorb contacting a witness, and influencing her view of the case BEFORE police contacted this person. The testimony of this witness was later used to help build a case against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki: Potential State Witness Wrote Letter to Judge Knutson – Criticizing Court’s Failure to Protect Rucki Children from Abuse

Has Stahl and Brodkorb gone too far in their reporting of the Grazzini-Rucki case?

“Interesting, No?” Posted on the Red Herring Alert on November 21, 2015 by Susan:

Local media coverage of the missing Rucki girls has been politically motivated.  It is very clear.

It is interesting to note that Michael Brodkorb, who always claimed his sole motivation was to find the missing girls, has not written anything about them being found last Wednesday, but on Thursday, did post an article about Michelle MacDonald.

No post about his relief that the girls were found.  No post with relief that the girls can tell their story.  No post reporting how relieved the father is.  Nope.  Just simply an article that shows his antipathy of Michelle MacDonald.

As a matter of fact, coverage by Brodkorb fell off after August 24, 2015, which is odd because the case was just ramping up after a warrant was issued for Sandra Grazzini-Rucki on August 19, 2015.

Brodkorb’s recent articles on the missing Rucki sisters:

Image courtesy of Bluebay at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Bluebay at freedigitalphotos.net

Sources tell us that an unmarked vehicle with  its flashers on was the first to arrive on the scene on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, the day that law enforcement officials located S. Rucki and G. Rucki.

It is further reported to Red Herring Alert that Doug Dahlen, who lives at the home where the girls were located,  arrived home to find a vehicle with its flashers on, parked on a gravel road.  Not knowing who was in the vehicle, he stopped to inquire if the driver was OK.  The vehicle sat there for 3 hours before law enforcement arrived.  Brandon Stahl was in the vehicle and went to the door asking for an interview.  He gave Mr. Dahlen his business card, identifying himself as Brandon stahl of the Star Tribune.

Brandon Stahl (Source: Red Herring Alert)

Brandon Stahl (Source: Red Herring Alert)

Michael Brodkorb, source: startribune.com

Michael Brodkorb, source: startribune.com

Our sources also tell us that law enforcement treated the girls very well, and promised to listen to what they have to say.

It is deeply disturbing to know how law enforcement has tipped off local media to parts of the investigation, prior to any public reports from the officials.  Isn’t it pathetic that the Star Tribune sat there for 3 hours prior to the arrival of law enforcement?  3 hours!

This writer appeared on Tim Kinley’s show Speechless MN, on October 29th to talk about the Rucki case.  Tim made an observation about the media’s handling of Family Court:

Let’s face it. Divorced parents are treated as second class citizens in every state in the nation. No one cares if your child is withheld from you.  The interest in the Rucki case would have received little attention, if not for the fact that the GOP needs Michelle MacDonald to go away.  She came within 7 points of winning a seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014.  If you listened to Ron Rosenbaum’s show last Thursday, you can hear his obsession with Michelle MacDonald.  Dede Evavold will be posting about that soon.

We also know that the Minnesota Family Court would like MacDonald to go away, as well.  She is bad for business as usual in the courts.  To have her disbarred for this case would make many people very happy, but the truth is, she came in after the case was a mess.  If Michelle MacDonald were to be disbarred for this, let’s hope that Lisa Henry would be, too. She was the lawyer who participated in the phone conference with Judge David Knutson, and was too timid to tell Judge Knutson that it was unlawful for him to throw Sandra out of her home with less than two hours notice.

Judge David L Knutson (source: http://lionnews00.blogspot.com)

Judge David L Knutson (source: http://lionnews00.blogspot.com)

In all my years of Family Court experience, that began with my own ordeal in 1998 and spanned eight long years, I have not seen any kind of intervention when children are withheld from a loving parent.

Tim Kinley mentioned the Caroline Rice case (accidentally referred to her as Susan Rice, but it is Caroline).  You can read about the Rice case and the appeal.

Minnesota Court Overturns Mom’s Conviction Sends Message of Hope

Caroline Rice Appeals Court Decision Minnesota

In my opinion, the Rucki case was driven by political vitriol and the courts fail to do what they can to ensure both parents are allowed to spend time with their children.  They also fail to protect children from abusive parents, who can be a mother or a father.  Readers will have to draw their own conclusion about these issues.

I recommend readers watch the full episode of Speechless MN with Tim Kinley, and check out other pertinent videos on Tim’s Speechless MN You Tube Channel!

Potential State Witness Wrote Letter to Judge Knutson – Criticizing Court’s Failure to Protect Rucki Children from Abuse

Lori Musolf, potential witness to be called by the State in the parental deprivation case against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki wrote a letter to Judge Knutson in May 2013, asserting her belief that the Rucki children were abused by their father, David Rucki, and were “terrified” of him. Lori criticizes Judge Knutson’s handling of the case and desperately prays “that the MN Appellant Court will put a stop to this insanity”.

With such strong beliefs, how did Lori become a potential witness for the State? And with such a drastic change in her story, does she have any credibility?

 

Lori Twit

       Lori Musolf: “I hate corrupt

judicial and social services

may they rot in hell.”

 

Lori describes herself as an “investigator”, “advocate” and “child advocate”. She also claims to have worked with Fox 9 news. Through the Carver County Corruption blog, she began to network with and offer her support to parents involved in family court proceedings. Lori explains in a Twitter post, “Sometimes people have to stand up to corrupt government.”

Lori’s main interest was in exposing perceived corruption in Meeker County. She worked with a group of citizens in these efforts and with the help of Trish van Pilsum from Fox 9, garnered publicity when van Pilsum covered two separate stories based on the Meeker citizen group’s efforts.

Below is a video of Lori hard at work in “exposing corruption” in Meeker County.

 

Lori’s Letter to Judge David Knuston –

You Have Sentenced the Rucki Children       

to a Life of Pure Hell and Danger

Judge David L Knutson

Judge David L Knutson

 

Lori’s letter to Judge Knutson was published on the Carver County Corruption blog in May 2013. Though the blog has been taken down, we were able to get a copy, with screenshots to validate its existence.

 

In the letter, Lori says about the Rucki girls “these young girls are obviously terrified of David Rucki. For these two teenagers to be on the run, obviously they are scared for their lives.”

 

Lori also criticizes Judge Knutson and says that he has made some “huge mistakes”. Lori writes to Judge Knutson “ I sincerely hope that you can look at ALL of the facts of this case, realize that you have made some huge mistakes, allowed other huge mistakes to be made and that you will  someday allow these children to live their lives in the home where they feel protected.

Lori also warns Judge Knutson, “In my opinion David Rucki is a loose cannon and you are playing right into his hands.”

 

Lori Musolf Responds to a Cry for Help

From the Missing Rucki Girls

After the Rucki girls ran away from the (temporary) custody of paternal aunt, Tammy Love, on April 19, 2013, they reached out to Lori for help (from the police report generated by Det. Dronen on 8/6/2015), Musolf told me that a day or two after S and G ran away from home, one of them had called her but she didn’t know which one. The girls told her that they wanted to tell their story to the media, and her to try to use her connections to get their story on the news. Musolf stated that the girls would not tell her were they were or give them a phone number to call them back but told her they would call her every half an hour or so to try and arrange an interview.”

 

The Rucki girls did call as promised, and each time they made contact Lori had an opportunity to call the police or notify the authorities on the whereabouts of these two missing children. She could have even made an anonymous report if she had any fear or concern. Lori consciously, and intentionally, chose NOT to make that call, as her phone rang every half hour, she spoke to the Rucki girls, and offered her support.

In May 2013, Lori arranged an interview between the Rucki girls and Trish van Pilsum of Fox 9, (police report),”She was present when the interview was conducted, and has asked the girls when it was over if they were safe, and they told her they were. She saw S and G walking to a fast food restaurant to get picked up when Musolf and van Pilsum left Sauk Center to interview Sandra Grazzini-Rucki.After the interview aired, Musolf assisted the girls by actively promoting their story, sharing web links and speaking out against what she viewed a “corrupt court system” that was responsible for their suffering. As time passed, Lori remained silent on what she knew about the missing girls, protecting them still.

Lori’s Story Changes… with a Little Help from Michael Brodkorb

With such strong beliefs, how did Lori become a potential witness for the State? This means Lori is defending the “corrupt” family court system she once opposed. Why??

According to the police report, on July 24, 2015 Brandon Stahl called Det. Dronen to inquire about updates on the case and discuss a tip that he had received. That tip led police to speak to a witness who then mentioned Lori Musolf by name, and made this statement, “..if Sandra knew where the girls were, Musolf would know as well.” The witness then provided Det. Dronen with Lori’s contact information. But before Det. Dronen could find Lori, Michael Brodkorb had already located her and spoken to her. This is clearly interference in an open police investigation.

Officer Dronen. Source: sunthisweek.com

Lori says in her August 6, 2015 police interview with Officer Dronen that she was once a strong supporter of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki until she started reading articles written in the Star Tribune, and began to doubt the abuse allegations she once defended, “She began to take notice of the case when Brandon Stahl and Michael Brodkorb’s articles began appearing in the Star Tribune.”

Michael Brodkorb, source: startribune.com

Michael Brodkorb, source: startribune.com

Lori’s doubts were reinforced when she spoke to Brodkorb, what information he shared with her is unknown, (from the police report) “She also stated that she had been contacted by Michael Brodkorb on 8/2/15. While she told me she didn’t tell Brodkorb anything, she stated that it really made her start digging into the case.” 

Lori must have known that her involvement with the Rucki girls could lead to criminal charges. From the police report, ”Musolf told me that she thought the friends (name omitted to protect their privacy) given Brodkorb her number, and she believed they were trying to pin things on her.” Friends gave Lori’s phone number to Brodkorb… keep in mind the lead that led police to these “friends” came from Brandon Stahl.

 

Has Lori made a deal at the expense of the Rucki girls?

Lori has never been criminally charged with her involvement in the case, though she clearly has aided and abetted two runaway teens. 

Edited versions of Musolf’s statement were included in criminal complaints against the Dahlens and were also included in the search warrant application for Dede Evavold. Lori may also be called as a witness to testify against Sandra. Did Lori make a deal to avoid charges?

Lori wrote to Judge Knutson, “David Rucki has a history of domestic abuse witnessed by these same children. How can you possibly think that putting these children’s lives in danger is ok?” Answer that Lori.

Given that the State’s case has largely relied on suppressing  evidence and witness testimony of abuse, stalking and violent behavior from David Rucki, if Lori is called to the witness stand, and this letter is introduced, it may be one of few allegations of abuse, and related documentation, brought to the jury.

That is, if court does not interfere with Lori’s vacation.

Vacation2

http://carvercountycorruption.com/2013/05/20/letter-from-child-advocate-to-judge-david-l-knutson/

 

Letter From Child Advocate To Judge David L. Knutson

Posted on May 20, 2013

 

Dear Judge David L. Knutson,

 

As an advocate I am appalled at your court orders involving the Rucki case. I cannot fathom why you think teenagers have no choices in their lives, especially children who believe their lives are in danger. I hope you watched the Fox9 report on the Rucki case. I would like to point out a few things that I believe you may want to think about.

 

First, these young girls are obviously terrified of David Rucki. For these two teenagers to be on the run, obviously they are scared for their lives.

 

Did you notice how obvious it was that David Rucki knew exactly what conversation the girls talked about concerning the threats of him shooting them?

Quotes from the fox9 story “The Rucki girls told FOX 9 their father sat them down at the kitchen table and threatened to shoot them and their mother.” David states, “What I think I said is, ‘What do you want me to do? Put a bullet in my head so you don’t have to deal with this?’”

Think? He obviously was in a rage during this conversation.

 

David Rucki has a history of domestic abuse witnessed by these same children. How can you possibly think that putting these children’s lives in danger is ok? What could you possibly be thinking?

 

David Rucki said the Rucki case file is the biggest in Dakota County Family Court. Is he proud of this? Why would he even elaborate on that if he didn’t take some pride in it? Former owner of Rucki trucking? I hope his employees found this amusing and come forward.

 

Second, David Rucki’s attorney Ms. Elliot claims, and I quote from the Fox9 story, “He probably did have a short temper. There were five kids. Things get crazy. Did he ever harm them? No,” said Elliot. “Maybe he didn’t try hard enough to stay in contact with them when this was going on thinking if things would calm down, it would go back to the way it was — but it went in the other direction.” He probably did have a short temper. Obviously he did if he is talking about shooting himself in the head. “There were five kids. Things get crazy.” Wow, really? I have five children and four grandchildren and nothing in my home has been crazy enough to allow me to be violent or threaten my children. Ms. Elliot also stated, “Did he ever harm them… No” How could Ms. Elliot possibly know this? Was she there? Unbelievable that someone in the field of law could make such ridiculous statements as if they were facts. I believe Ms. Elliot has done this repeatedly throughout this case. Such a sad case when a judge allows someone like Ms. Elliot to conduct herself in this manner. Is Ms. Elliot the person running the show making you look like a fool?

 

Ms. Elliot goes on to state, “”They tried three different therapists or professionals in the Twin Cities to try reunification while the children were still living with their mom and it just didn’t work,” Do you really think that reunification with a threatening abusive person should work? These children are terrified of this man and they know that neither you or the therapists on this case will listen and have sentenced them to a life of pure hell and danger. This is absolutely appalling. How can you sentence these children to this life?

 

Third, Mr. Reitman reeks bias in this case. How can he even consider the fact that only the mother has created parental alienation? Have you heard the audio’s of David Rucki’s messages to his children blaming their mom for everything? What is even more appalling is the fact that what I would refer to as a “hired gun”, Mr. Reitman, believes that children should be forced to visit with a father, even if sexual abuse is an issue, because of lack of evidence. Are children supposed to say, “Hold on dad, I have to get the video camera to record this as evidence?” I can only hope the sexual abuse advocates go after any license this monster holds. I would say this story exposed Mr. Reitman for what he is……a monster!

 

Last but not least…. Shame on you for allowing this family to be torn apart by your orders. Shame on you for forcing children into a relationship with a father they are terrified of. Shame on you for forcing these children to make the drastic decision to go on the run in order to protect themselves. Shame on David Rucki for threatening these children and helping to destroy their lives with his continuing insane actions. Shame on Ms. Elliot for allowing any of this and defending this father. Shame on Dr Reitman for his sadistic beliefs. Shame on our judicial system for not making all of you accountable for your actions.

 

In cases like this I have to wonder how our system got to the point that destroying families in today’s society is ok. I think of all of the children that have been murdered by their parents in disputes and I have to wonder how you could put those children in this position. How will you feel if the next time David Rucki loses control, one of these children are severely injured or worse yet dead. In my opinion David Rucki is a loose cannon and you are playing right into his hands.

 

I sincerely hope that you can look at ALL of the facts of this case, realize that you have made some huge mistakes, allowed other huge mistakes to be made and that you will  someday allow these children to live their lives in the home where they feel protected. How can you possibly think that putting children in danger is the thing to do? I can’t even begin to wrap my head around your reasoning. I can only pray that the MN Appellant Court puts a stop to this insanity.

Sincerely,

 

Lori Musolf

Child Advocate

(Screen Shots of Letter Below)

LettertoKnutson1

 

LettertoKnutson2

LettertoKnutson3

Unwarranted: Was the Arrest Warrant Against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Improperly Handled?

wantedposter2a

In August 2015, a sealed warrant for the arrest of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was “accidentally” posted on the public webpage of the Dakota County Sheriff’s office leading to the warrant being widely published, and shared, in news media outlets across the country.

Sensitive information about the sealed warrant was also given to abusive ex-husband, David Rucki, from The Star Tribune. This means that David was given information, and knew about, the arrest warrant BEFORE Sandra did. 

Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie claims the leak was just a “glitch”. Dakota County’s mishanding of Sandra’s arrest warrant is NOT just a “glitch” – it is a serious error that has violated Sandra’s due process rights, and the questionable way the arrest warrant was handled may have greater legal implications.

Could this “glitch” cost Dakota County their case against Sandra? A recent court ruling states that improper service is grounds for dismissal; certainly in this case, there was not only improper service but outright negligence to protect information so sensitive that the judge ordered the warrant to be sealed. 

Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie (courtesy photo)

 

Signed, Sealed, but NOT Delivered

When someone is suspected of a crime, law enforcement obtains a warrant of arrest which is a document signed by a judge authorizing the detention of an individual, or authorizing the search and seizure of an individual’s property.

In the case of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, a nation wide warrant for arrest was submitted by Prosecuting Attorney Kathryn M. Keena before a judge, and put under a seal on August 12, 2015. Sandra was charged with 3 counts of felony deprivation of parental rights. According to Keena a seal was needed “because disclosure could cause defendant to flee, hide, or otherwise prevent execution of the warrant. The seal was to last until Sandra is arrested, and returned to the state.

Amended Warrant Against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki

NOTE: Sandra is a flight attendant with an impeccable service record; she works with the public in her job, and has never been a danger to anyone. Just the opposite, Sandra has a reputation for providing a high quality care to customers, and is known for her easy smile, and gentle approach. Sandra has been staying in Florida in between flights, she has a squeaky-clean background, and has no prior criminal history.  

Was a Sealed Warrant Necessary?

A seal means that the warrant is filed in secret, and its existence will not be made public. The subject of the warrant has no idea that they are wanted on charges until they are apprehended. A sealed warrant is usually reserved for special circumstances where public knowledge may jeopardize the investigation and/or issuance of the warrant.

Putting a seal on an arrest warrant is NOT a common procedure; and is even more extraordinary when used against an ordinary Minnesota Mom. Sandra has no prior criminal history, and has attended all scheduled court dates (related to ongoing custody issues) – even travelling from out of state to do so. Sandra has also worked at the same job for over 20 years, and maintains a stable lifestyle. She posed absolutely no risk of danger to anyone, and was certainly not a flight risk. 

Further, the police knew exactly where to find Sandra – according to the police report, the Lakeville police had previously issued search warrants for the airline she worked for, and had no problem finding out her address, phone number, bank account information and employment information. Sandra was being monitored before the warrant was issued. While this was happening, Sandra maintained her normal routine, and did not display any signs that she would evade any legal process.

A summons to appear at a court date would have been sufficient, rather than going to these unnecessary and costly, efforts used by Dakota County. Further, criminal charges are NOT evidence of guilt.  A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Somebody’s Watching Me… (Free Image: http://www.acclaimimages.com)

Sealed Warrant Goes Public Due to a “Glitch”

Despite the exhaustive efforts of Dakota County to seal the arrest warrant, there was a glitch (or perhaps a leak?) and out of all the warrants entered in the system…somehow only the sealed warrant belonging to Sandra was “accidentally” posted publicly on the Dakota County Sheriff’s website.

And if that was not bad enough (gasp!) the Star Tribune, who had been in contact with Lakeville police for months, was alerted and went public, announcing an arrest warrant had been issued for Sandra.

Brandon Stahl of the Star Tribune broke news of the arrest warrant on August 18th: Mother sought in case of two missing Lakeville girls

Brandon Stahl of the Star Tribune

Followed by Michael Brodkorb, a former reporter with Star Tribune, posting an update on August 21st on his Twitter feed, mentioning the supposedly sealed arrest warrant: https://twitter.com/mbrodkorb/status/634764171125592064

The Star Tribune then informed Sandra’s attorney, Michelle MacDonald, about the sealed warrant…and gleefully spread the news across multiple social media venues. The seal had been broken on the warrant as the news spread nationwide thanks to the special efforts made by Stahl and Brodkorb at the Star Tribune. Keep in mind one of the common reasons that a warrant is sealed is to prevent news of the warrant from reaching the media, who could compromise the case with disclosure.

Michael Brodkorb~ terminated reporter, Star Tribune

By “coincidence” a local news outlet reports on the close relationship between Lt. Jason Polinski of the Lakeville Police Department and the Star Tribune, who was working on the Grazzini-Rucki case, “A Star Tribune story in April provided new information that helped police build a case for an arrest warrant for Grazzini-Rucki, who previously was considered a “person of interest,” in the case, Polinski said. ” Police looking for mother in disappearance of daughters in Minnesota

Even David Rucki himself acknowledged the connection,”..Rucki added he was “very grateful” for the assistance of law enforcement and media attention..” David had alot to be “grateful” for considering Michael Brodkorb of The Star Tribune tipped him off about the sealed warrant. Father of missing Lakeville sisters ‘relieved’ by warrant for ex-wife’s arrest

At that point there is no reason for the warrant to remain sealed. Instead, providing Sandra with a notice to appear in court would have been appropriate. Instead, Dakota County relentlessly pursued Sandra. At great cost to tax payers, Dakota County had the warrant removed from the public website and then re-sealed. Sandra was later apprehended by U.S. Marshalls, in Florida, and transported across the country to be brought back to Minnesota to answer to criminal charges. 

Keep in mind that Sandra works as a flight attendant, and she could have easily arranged her own transportation back to the state – as she had done numerous times in the past to answer to proceedings related to her custody dispute.

Recent Case Presents Compelling Reason for Dismissal

The significance of the sealed warrant being publicly posted, and then making the news outlets, is that information about the sealed warrant was not only improperly released but also improperly served. You can not “re-seal” a sealed warrant that has been this compromised; it serves no purpose. Even more important, every individual is protected by laws designed to uphold personal liberty. These laws are in place to limit the government’s ability to take our freedom or property without due process. 

In the 2011 case of Jones v. Brown County (Civil No. 11-CV-568, SRN/FLN) the District Court found that, “ Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5), improper service of process may be grounds for dismissal. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(5). In this case, none of the defendants have been properly served. “

The Court then dismissed a claim made against Brown County because, “It is clear that process was not properly served in this case. “ And, “With regard to the individual defendants, under Minnesota Law service may be effectuated “by delivering a copy [of the summons and complaint] to the individual personally or by leaving a copy at the individual’s usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein.” Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.03(a). The only attempt at service upon the individual defendants in this case was by mailing a copy of the summons and complaint to the county offices in which these defendants work. These mailings did not constitute service by mail, as the mailings did not include two copies of Form 22, or a substantially similar notice and acknowledgment form, as required by Minnesota law. Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.05. Plaintiffs failed to meet the requirements for service upon an individual. Plaintiffs claims should be dismissed for insufficient service of process…

And because Plaintiffs improperly served the original Complaint, this action was never properly commenced. See R. 3.01. “ Source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-mnd-0_11-cv-00568/pdf/USCOURTS-mnd-0_11-cv-00568-1.pdf

Given that the sealed warrant was improperly served, the Prosecutor’s Office should promptly dismiss all charges. Plz stay tuned to the Justice 4 Grazzini-Rucki Family blog for news and updates!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalimages.net

 

An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so. “ ~ Mahatma Gandhi