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

 

 

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Keena Drops Aggravated Sentence Against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki

Breaking News: At the very last minute, as the jury is deliberating on charges against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki for felony parental deprivation, Assistant Dakota County Attorney Kathryn Keena drops her motion to impose an aggravated sentence against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, admitting the charges do not meet the guidelines.

An aggravated sentence is usually reserved for the most heinous crimes. Keena has not given a public statement but previously wrote a notice to the court that she was seeking an aggravated sentence because it was “cruel” to deprive David Rucki of his two daughters, and that he has “suffered extreme emotional pain beyond what is normal for this crime”.

This article will take a closer look at Keena’s motion, and offer additional information on the charges against Sandra.

Dakota County Judicial Center

Dakota County Judicial Center

 

Was David Rucki “Deprived” of his Daughters?

Or Did the Girls Run Away For Safety Reasons?

Keena argued that it was “cruel” to deprive David Rucki of his two daughters, and an aggravated sentence was warranted. Let’s take a closer look at the alleged “cruelty” and charges that Sandra “deprived” David of his two daughters.

Sandra has been charged felony parental deprivation for her role in the disappearance of her two teenage daughters. Sandra is arguing the “affirmative defense” meaning her actions were taken to protect her daughters from an unsafe environment, where they faced imminent physical or sexual harm.

Judge David L Knutson

Judge David L Knutson

It is important to note that when the Rucki girls ran away, their father, David, did not have custody, their mother, Sandra did not have custody of the children. Judge Knutson took custody away from both parents (Sept. 2012) and placed the children in the temporary care of their aunt, and issued a no contact order against both parents, who could now only communicate to their children through the court-appointed reunification therapist, Dr. Gilbertson. All of the Rucki children struggled to reunite with David, and showed a fear of him, and reported allegations of abuse. Dr. Gilbertson did not address the children’s fear and resulting emotional and behavioral symptoms; the focus on therapy was forcing reunification with David. Under these conditions, David won sole custody of the children in November 2013.When awarded custody of the children, David was on probation for a domestic violence charge with an OFP violation.

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Dr. James Gilbertson, PhD

Dr. James Gilbertson, PhD

In April 2013, the two teenage Rucki sisters ran away after Judge Knuston placed them in the temporary custody of paternal aunt, Tammy Love, where they would live under their father’s influence. The Girls made allegations they were being abused by their father, and were afraid for their lives. Before running away, the Girls made multiple attempts to seek help, and were denied the protection they deserved by Judge Knutson, and the family court system.

Laura Miles wrote in her report to the Court dated 6/3/2013 that she spoke to Michelle Roberts, police officer with Lakeville P.D. and ,”Ms. Roberts indicated that at this time, they have an open investigation regarding S and G, but they are considered to be “runaways” at this point. Ms. Roberts states that since they “left of their own free will”, “there is not much to be done as far as active efforts.”

 

The evidence is clear in showing that if the Rucki girls wanted to return to their father, David, they would have done so. The Rucki girls had ample opportunity to make contact with David if that was what they wanted. The girls were found at a therapeutic horse ranch in November 2015. Reports state that the girls both had access to cell phones, computers, had access to a car yet never made any attempt to contact David and never made any effort to return to his home. The girls used their legal names, and never made any attempt to conceal their identity; they lived in the open. The girls had also made contact with other adults, made friends with other teenagers, who they could have turned to for help, or asked for assistance in returning back to their father. They never made any of these gestures and said they were afraid of their father and not ready to see him.

The Girls chose to stay at the Ranch, and had adjusted well to their new life. They considered Gina Dahlen to be a “second mother”. 

After being found, the Girls continued to raise allegations of abuse, and begged to be in foster care rather than return to father David. The social worker assigned to the Rucki girls believed the abuse allegations, and petitioned the Court to keep the girls in foster care, and to allow only supervised visits with David until it was determined unsupervised visits were safe. The Girls spoke personally to Judge Michael Mayer, who assigned to their case, begging him for help. Judge Mayer refused to listen and told the Girls that if they ran away again, he would send the police to pursue them. Judge Mayer then returned the Girls to the custody of David. The Girl were then set to California, escorted by a security guard, to reunification therapy.

 

Severe Emotional Pain” is

NOT an Aggravating Circumstance

Kathryn Keena

Kathryn Keena

Keena said David has “suffered extreme emotional pain beyond what is normal for this crime”and an aggravated sentence is warranted.

To compare Sandra to a terrorist or a drug dealer, who would qualify for an aggravated sentence, is ridiculous. Keena should have been aware in November 2015, when filing the motion to the court, that an aggravated sentence was not applicable. An aggravated sentence is requested in special circumstances where the nature of the crime or the the impact the crime has had on the victim is especially severe. The prosecuting attorney may then ask for an aggravated sentence, meaning the sentence imposed goes above the usual guidelines. “Emotional pain” is NOT a circumstance that qualifies for an aggravated sentence under Minnesota law.

 

Further, Sandra is not a danger to anyone. She has no prior criminal history. In her job as a flight attendant, Sandra works with the public, and has consistently demonstrated safe, and appropriate behavior when interacting with others. Sandra was once the primary caregiver to her children. By all accounts, she had a close, loving relationship with her children until being forcibly separated by an unjust court order imposed by Judge David Knutson. To ask for an aggravated sentence against Sandra is extreme.

 

Emotional Pain?

David Rucki Making Jokes in a Public Statement

Regarding the Return of his Daughters

David Rucki statement 4/14/2106

David Rucki statement 4/14/2106

In a Facebook post dated April 14, 2016 – dated just days before the anniversary the Rucki girls ran away, on April 19, 2013, David writes about his gratitude to all those who supported him while his daughters were missing. The post was written on the page of Dr. Rebecca Bailey of Transitioning Families, who facilitated the reunification between David and his daughters.

A black and white picture accompanies the post, in it David Rucki poses in a Grouch Marx style costume with thick, bushy eyebrows, thick black glasses and a comical extra large fake nose.

In between David’s statements about how he has struggled with the disappearance of his daughters, are several jokes (Grouch Marx was a comedian, afterall ??) ….

To his friend, Tony Canney, David promises to buy a round of drinks the next time they go out, I’m not going to lie to you I put this guy threw the ringer listening to my crap, I guess I will be buying this weekend!

To attorney, Lisa Elliott, David jokes about the turmoil of ongoing litigation,Lisa Elliot and her staff at Elliot Law, when I walked into her office 5 years ago I told her that “This will be the craziest case she will ever have to deal with” she smirked at me and said ” I’ve seen it all” If you asked her today I know she would say ” This case has re wrote the book on crazy!

David jokes about his experience with the horses at Transitioning Families,”I love you guys, even though because of you I no longer have a fondness towards miniature horses! “Ouch!”

Are these the words of someone experiencing severe and debilitating emotional pain?

 

What’s Next?

Keena brought the motion for an aggravated sentence to make Sandra’s case appear more severe, and to impose a more harsh sentence than the law allows. Keena kept up this charade for 8 months, allowing the charges to be widely circulated in the media, knowing this case did not meet the guidelines. Only at the last possible minute did Keena rescind her motion. 

The merits of the Grazzini-Rucki case, and criminal charges against Sandra, continue to be debated. Perhaps this is why Keena held the motion for aggravated sentencing against Sandra for 8 long months, knowing it would not apply…. to manipulate the public perception of the case, and of Sandra.

Jury deliberations have begun, and will continue tomorrow.

Additional Reading:

Jury Selection Proves Difficult in Rucki Case by Michael Volpe

2015 MN Statutes: 244.10 SENTENCING HEARING; DEVIATION FROM GUIDELINES

(2011) Witness Says: David Rucki is a Very Angry Individual Who Rages… Expresses Concern for Sandra and Children

A witness (name omitted to protect privacy) to David Rucki’s abusive and violent behavior wrote a letter in 2011 (below) to share some of his experiences, and to voice concerns for the safety of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and the children.

victimletter

This letter supports the concerns raised by Sandra and supports the allegations of abuse raised by the Rucki children, who report a similar pattern of abusive and threatening behavior from David.

 

The witness reports that he felt so frightened of David Rucki that he applied for, and received, a restraining order in 2009: (2011) Judge Knutson Orders Reunification Therapy with David Rucki and Children, while HRO in place

Also note that the witness  heard David verbally abusing Sandra on a cell phone call, and “He truly berated her about being a poor mother“. This behavior matches the verbal abuse heard on voicemail messages that David left to his teenage son, Nico. The voicemail messages also include comments denigrating Sandra, and criticizing her ability to care for her children. That means you have two independent statements, from two different times, describing the SAME behavior from David. Rucki Enraged: Voicemail Transcripts Reveal Threats, Emotional Abuse Against Son

The witness also says “As one who does biblical counseling, I am convinced he (David Rucki) needs anger management treatment.” In fact, David was ordered into anger management on numerous occasions.

Judge David Knutson awarded David Rucki sole custody of the 5 children in November 2013, despite a long  history of abuse, rage and anger problems present in David. Just 7 months later, in June 2014, David was so offended by a fellow motorist that he stalked a vehicle, waited until the motorist got out of his car, and brutally beat him.  David was convicted of disorderly conduct and referred to anger management again.

See Condition #4 – Anger Management

Almost a year later, in November 2015, the Rucki girls are “recovered” after running away from the abuse, and dysfunction that their father brought into their life.  The girls bravely reported the abuse, and clearly stated that they are afraid of their father, and  would prefer to remain in foster care.  And at the time, David was still on probation for the road rage conviction – which should have demonstrated that he posed a risk of harm to the children.

Yet the Courts continue dismiss the Rucki girls’ concerns, and push for reunification therapy aka reprogramming. What kind of “therapy” forces children to live with an abuser, and forces children to accept abuse without question, to just take it?

I am pointing all of these facts out to show you, the Reader, that multiple sources, across time, describe the SAME kind of abusive and violent behavior from David Rucki. Clearly he has a propensity towards violence.

REMEMBER:   Domestic Violence manifests as a re-occurring pattern of behavior to maintain power and control over a partner or children and/or other family members. The presence of fear or trauma in a partner or in children is a telltale sign that abuse has occurred in a family.

Helpguide.org: Domestic Violence and Abuse – Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships

Is this a case of “parental alienation”?

Think about it… David Rucki has a documented history of anger problems, rage and violent behavior with related criminal charges, and police involvement, going back at least 16 years (figuring the witness said a “decade” of living next to David)!

Why won’t the Courts listen to the Rucki children? All they are asking for is to live in a safe home, free of violence. Is that too much to ask? 

When home doesn’t feel like home anymore… (Public Domain: http://www.pd4pic.com)

Please also read Michael Volpe’s investigation into the Grazzini-Rucki case, the history of abuse, and how this case was handled by the family court system for additional information, and insight: Chaos and horror after courts step in for Rucki family by Michael Volpe, Communities Digital News

Multiple Witness Reports: Rucki Sisters Fearful of Father, Felt Safe at Ranch

Multiple witnesses confirm that sisters Samantha and Gianna Rucki were afraid of their father, David Rucki, and both described various incidents of physical and emotional abuse at his hands. The sisters said they felt safe at the White Horse Ranch, and did not want to leave. These statements were revealed in a recent report from an investigator with over 10 years experience in the criminal justice field, who interviewed the witnesses. 

Read the report in its entirety here: Witness Statements – Rucki Sisters at White Horse Ranch

Public Domain: http://chainimage.com/

Public Domain: http://chainimage.com

Findings include the following:

  • Samantha and Gianna Rucki did not conceal their identity while staying at White Horse Ranch, and “stayed openly” using their legal names. The sisters frequently went shopping in town, and had their hair done at a local salon. They went to eat at nearby restaurants, attended church and on birthdays, people would come to the Ranch to celebrate with the girls.
    • Samantha and Gianna were free to leave the Ranch at any time, and both had access to phones and computers. Keys were also left in vehicles that the sisters had access to. The sisters were told they could leave at any time. The sisters reported that they stayed at the Ranch because they felt safe, and were being cared for. Samantha and Gianna also stated that they did not want to return to the home of their father, David Rucki, due to his violent and abusive behavior and would run away if returned his care. 
    • Samantha and Gianna had emotional and behavioral symptoms suggestive of abuse including: nightmares, afraid to be touched, were quiet and guarded, would cry when talking about their father or his abusive behavior, and their facial expressions and body language conveyed fear to those who saw them.
    • Specific instances of abuse were also mentioned including: They saw their father (David Rucki) choke their mother (Sandra Grazzini-Rucki), and he threatened to kill their mother. In another allegation, David Rucki threatened to kill their mother and them himself. The girls also said their father had physically and emotionally abused them, and showed a gun to them, inflicting fear. The girls reportedly said they “can’t live with him” meaning their father.
    • By all accounts, Doug and Gina Dahlen (White Horse Ranch) provided a safe, nurturing environment for Samantha and Gianna Rucki. One witnessed described White Horse Ranch as “a ‘safe place’ for children (and others needing help) where they can be open, listened to, encouraged to be themselves, grow in their faith, learn new skills, and find therapeutic relief in interacting with the animals”. 

It should be noted that the reports made by Samantha and Giana Rucki to these witnesses are consistent with other reports the girls made to therapists. police, CPS, close friends and court professionals in the past – and matches also reports made recently after being “recovered”. The Rucki sisters have not changed their story in all the years they have cried out for help.

(Bing) The entrance to White Horse Ranch

 

“He’s lost it on us kids a number of times..” Video testimony from 14 year old Samantha Grazzini-Rucki (since removed from YouTube) describing the physical and mental abuse she has experienced from father, David Rucki, and the beatings she witnessed her mother endure.

Samantha also talks about the unprofessional conduct of the professionals involved in her family court case, and how she was “threatened with juvenile detention centers” if she did not comply with their demands . Samantha says the family court is not respecting her wishes, and not listening to her concerns of abuse, but instead has called her a “liar” and traumatized her.

Samantha also talks about the pain she has felt being separated from her mother “for absolutely no reason“. Samantha says “all I want is to live with my Mom” and “she is nothing but our rock…” and begs “Please let us live with our Mom and be happy…