ABC 20/20 Tweet About Abuse of Rucki Teen Exposed As Misleading

“Footprints in the Snow” or Skating on Thin Ice??

Shocking development from journalist Michael Volpe, who has been covering the Grazzini-Rucki caseABC’s ’20/20′ tweets misleading information on Rucki story (CDN News)

A recent social media post from ABC 20/20 raises more questions about their portrayal of the Grazzini-Rucki case, which was featured in the episode “Footprints in the Snow”. 20/20 has been criticized for ignoring critical facts, and refusing to include evidence of abuse.

20/20 recently updated, and re-aired “Footprints” at the end of March 2017. By then ABC had ample time to further investigate the Grazzini-Rucki case, and include any information that was omitted in the original episode. They refused to do so. In addition, ABC had been the target of an onslaught of public complaint from viewers who were familiar with the case and recognized critical information was missing or inaccurately portrayed. There have also been news reports published with new information on the case. ABC 20/20 selected information from news sources, such as Sandra’s sentencing, to include in the updated episode of “Footprints” while continuing to ignore evidence of abuse.

In a post dated March 26, 2017, made when 20/20 updated their story, claims “Samantha denies that her father ever hit her.” However, in a police interview from June 2016, she said the OPPOSITE of what the post suggested and “The ABC tweet is even more misleading, given that Samantha Rucki also told Detective Coughlin that her father was pressuring her into recanting prior allegations of abuse…

This article uncovers evidence and documentation regarding domestic violence, child abuse, and David Rucki’s extensive criminal history that ABC 20/20 failed to include  in “Footprints”. You will also hear reports from witnesses who had experienced Rucki’s frightening and violent behavior.
None of this was included in the “Footprints” episode.

E-mail complaints, thoughts and feedback about “Footprints in the Snow” to ABC 20/20 at:

elizabeth.a.vargas@abc.com  and  sean.dooley@abc.com

Elizabeth Vargas, journalist and anchor, ABC 20/20

Elizabeth Vargas, journalist and anchor, ABC 20/20

Sean Dooley, Producer, ABC 20/20 (Twitter)

Sean Dooley, Producer, ABC 20/20 (Twitter)

 

 

 

Commentary: “Children and domestic violence victims die in this country every week by order of the family law courts…”

Public Domain: http://www.pd4pic.com

Public Domain: http://www.pd4pic.com

After reading this blog, Malinda left the following comment to share her thoughts regarding ABC 20/20’s coverage of the Grazzini-Rucki case, and how they have, in her opinion, “aided and abetted an abuser“.

Malinda also offers insight into how the family court system fails to protect abuse victims and their children from harm, and instead misuses its power and authority to wrongfully take custody and place the children into the care of identified abusers; at great risk to the lives of the children involved.

Malinda warns that family court failures, and the attitudes of professionals who do not protect children from abuse, will cause devastation of families, significantly hurt children and may even contribute to murder. To offer an example, Malinda discusses the horrific murders committed by Nicholas Holzer, a dangerous abuser who was given custody by a family court and went on to murder his two children, parents as well as the family pet.

Malinda says in response to Casualities of W.A.R. Radio – “Beauty and the Basketball Player” Yahya McClain Interviews Former NBA Star Joe Smith, and Minnesota Mom Sandra Grazzini-Rucki :

All parties to the case of Sandra Grazzini Rucki treated Sandra exactly the same as Juana Holzer a divorcing mother of two young boys.

Sandra and her children were clearly victims of domestic violence. David Rucki is a named identified abuser by his wife, children, restraining orders filed by neighbors and the police…all 20/20 needed to do was scratch the surface to find the truth of what David Rucki did, what he is and what he has gotten away with.

20/20 is FAKE NEW ORGANIZATION and has aided and abetted an abuser!

Read how children and domestic violence victims die in this country every week by order of the family law courts…

CASE IN POINT Juana Holzer warned Judge Thomas Anderle of Santa Barbara, CA that her ex husband Nicolas Holzer was violent with her and her boys. She said, Nicholas Holzer was a batterer. Juana stated that Nicolas Holzer had raped her and molested their young sons Sebastian and Vincent. Juana feared for the safety of her boys in the care of their father…BUT as a result, Juana lost custody of her boys to their abusive father.

Nicholas Holzer (Source: Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office)

Nicolas Holzer (Source: Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office)

This frightened mother reached out with the same disclosures to CASA, Child Abuse Advocates in Santa Barbara, Catholic Charities, and to a Therapy Center also in the Santa Barbara area…with no results or support. A court appointed evaluator, Dr. Gary Rick examined/investigated the parents. Dr. Rick did not heed Juana’s warnings or give any weight to her disclosures regarding her violent ex husband and the fear the boys expressed to their mother as they were forced by the court to be alone with their father.

In his findings and report to Judge Anderle, Dr. Rick named Nicolas Holzer as the better parent(!)..and Juana as a paternal “alienator.” Bingo! As thousands of safe, fit, loving parents…Juana was placed on supervised visitation, she was ordered under guard when she visited her sons because of her expressed concerns of abuse against her and her children. Juana could not afford to pay for monitored visitation, so she was cut off from her children. The court and it’s appointees interfered with and destroyed her relationship with with her sons!

In August of 2014 Nicolas Holzer, Dr. Rick’s favored parent… murdered his own parents and Juana’s sons. The sons, she could not protect. Nicholas Holzer knifed his parents and his sons to death in their beds while they slept… not even the family dog could survive Nicolas Holzer. He butchered the beloved family pet, an Australian Shepard.

All parties to the case were against the mother.. from the very beginning, the attitudes were similar to that of Ms. Elliot, Mr. Rucki’s attorney and 20/20.

 

NOTE: Juana Holzer is now suing ex-husband Nicholas Holzer, and the family trust, for wrongful death for the brutal murder of her two children.

 

For More Information on the Holzer Case:

Ex-Wife Sues Nicolas Holzer in Children’s Murders (The Independent)

Man indicted in fatal stabbing of parents, two sons and pet dog (Los Angeles Times)

Nicholas Holzer Murders (The Independent)

 

E-mail complaints, thoughts and feedback about “Footprints in the Snow” to ABC 20/20 at:

elizabeth.a.vargas@abc.com  and  sean.dooley@abc.com

 

Read More from Michael Volpe’s investigation into the Grazzini-Rucki case: Did 20/20 Manipulate the Rucki Story to Hide Abuse? (CDN, Michael Volpe)

Footprints in the Snow or Wild Goose Chase? Did ABC 20/20 Edit Audio Recordings to Suppress Evidence of Abuse in the Grazzini-Rucki Case? Pt. 1

Is ABC 20/20 Covering Up Their Own ‘Footprints in the Snow’?

Footprints in the Snow or Wild Goose Chase? ABC 20/20's reporting on Grazzini-Rucki case raises questions about journalistic integrity (Public Domain: http://www.photos-public-domain.com)

Footprints in the Snow or Wild Goose Chase? ABC 20/20’s reporting on Grazzini-Rucki case raises questions about their journalistic integrity (Public Domain Photo: http://www.photos-public-domain.com)

The thing that’s been inhibiting long-form investigative reporting is fear – fear of being sued, of being unpopular, of being criticized by very powerful groups...” –  Eric Schlosser, investigative journalist

__________

As the end of 2016 approaches, and a new year begins, ABC 20/20 makes one last desperate attempt to redeem themselves after host Elizabeth Vargas, and producer Sean Dooley were caught suppressing evidence of abuse in the Grazzini-Rucki case, and portraying the identified abuser, David Rucki, in a sympathetic light at the expense of the true victims – ex-wife, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, and children.

Elizabeth Vargas, journalist and anchor, ABC 20/20

Elizabeth Vargas, journalist and anchor, ABC 20/20

Sean Dooley, Producer, ABC 20/20 (Twitter)

Sean Dooley, Producer, ABC 20/20 (Twitter)

ABC 20/20 is scheduled to re-broadcast it’s episode about the Grazzini-Rucki case, “Footprints in the Snow” (originally aired 4/8/2016) to include another interview with David Rucki, and to include updated information on the criminal trial of Sandra. Can we trust the reporting of the Grazzini-Rucki case by ABC 20/20 a second time around with so many errors in the original version of the story?

Let’s examine some additional information that may offer some clues about ABC 20/20, Vargas and Dooley in their reporting of the Grazzini-Rucki case…

#1 Making a Comeback

After Vargas hit rock bottom in her struggle with alcoholism, she needed a comeback to revive her career, and her tarnished reputation. The Grazzini-Rucki story was just that for her.

In January 2014, Vargas was forced to go public with her alcoholism after it was leaked to press. That same year, her husband asked for a divorce, without informing her prior to filing. ABC also put Vargas on notice to stay sober or lose her job. In all, Vargas had entered rehab on 3 separate occasions.

A revealing article by People magazine, published just prior to “Footprints in the Snow” describes Vargas’ struggle with alcohol and includes a statement suggesting that 20/20 had given her “another chance”. Vargas said to People, “I am really lucky, and every day I realize that more because I see so many people who don’t have family and friends who stood by them, or employers that gave them another chance..

What was that “chance”? In the very next paragraph, Vargas tells People about her upcoming story about the Grazzini-Rucki case, “Vargas’ next 20/20 special about a secret network of people who take the law into their own hands and hide children that they believe have been wronged by the family-court system airs April 8 on ABC. ‘I’ve been working on it for months’, she says…‘” Elizabeth Vargas Opens Up About Her Alcoholism (People.com)

The Grazzini-Rucki story has not even been aired yet and Vargas is already spinning the story, and promoting false and misleading information about the the case!  It was not until April 8, 2016 that Vargas interviewed Sandra and David for “Footprints”.

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Secret network? There is absolutely no evidence to suggest a “secret network” was involved in the Grazzini-Rucki case or involved in the disappearance of the eldest two daughters. In fact, both S.R. and G.R. openly admit they ran away due to safety concerns, and raised numerous abuse allegations prior to running away and after being found 2 years later. During all this time, their story is consistent, and does not change.

In November 2015, after being found living on a therapeutic horse ranch, the teens told a Dakota County social worker they would not run away again, and would even go to counseling if needed, so long as they were kept protected from their father, and allowed to stay in foster care. Once again, S.R. and G.R. were desperately seeking a way to be protected from an abusive, and dysfunctional home life with their father. The sisters asked their mother for help in the same way they asked the social worker for help.

An overwhelming body of evidence shows very clearly that abuse, and the belief they would be in imminent danger, IS what caused S.R. and G.R. to run away. Both teens said very strongly that they are not brainwashed, and have asked that their voices be heard and respected.

False allegations like these raised by 20/20 send the message that if you speak up about abuse you will not be believed. Does the public really want to see another episode of ABC 20/20 promoting this dangerous message? A louder message will be sent by those who simply refuse to watch when “Footprints in the Snow” is re-aired.

No criminal charges have been brought against a “secret network” involved in the Grazzini-Rucki case. There is also zero evidence connecting the Grazzini-Rucki case, and those charged in connection with the disappearance of the two eldest daughters, to any other case of missing children. Vargas is inventing a story, which is simply not supported by fact or evidence. Vargas has had over a year to gather this evidence, and still she comes up empty.

#2 Personal Problems

Vargas publicly admits that she suffers from “crushing” anxiety and insecurity that existed since childhood.

Is it possible that Vargas would go to great lengths to please Sean Dooley, and 20/20 because of her own insecurities, and need for acceptance and approval? Did the need to regain acceptance and revive her career cause Vargas to craft this false narrative about the Grazzini-Rucki case?

#3 Projection

Is it a coincidence that in “Footprints in the Snow” that Vargas identifies with David Rucki, a man who has also been accused of having an alcohol problem, and who has hurt his own children due to his drinking, when Vargas publicly admits to the exact same experiences?

somethingshady

David Rucki

Rucki’s criminal history is extensive, and includes being arrested for disorderly conduct back in December 1994. The significance of this arrest is that it shows a long-term problem with alcohol. The police report says Rucki was “heard shouting and screaming“, that he broke a beer bottle and was “asked to leave by staff for his excessive drinking and not having control“. In the personal description of the report police note the following: Appearance – drunk/drugged, Appearance – violent, Speech – foul, Speech – slurred. David Rucki’s Greatest Hits (Criminal Records)

Other records (numerous sources) show that all 5 of the Rucki children also have witnessed their father drunk many occasions. Social service records note that after being discovered living on a horse ranch, S.R. and G.R. were interviewed by a social worker and state that, “both girls talk about dad being drunk at times in the past...” G.R. says her father “would take her to the bar after dance or hockey…Rucki Social Service/CPS Records

In a February 2013 letter from court appointed therapist Dr. James Gilbertson to Guardian ad Litem Julie Friedrich, allegations the Rucki children raised about their father’s abusive behavior and drinking problem is also noted, “There are two prevailing emotional themes these children speak to: One is fear being in the presence of their father given what they allege to he being an angry and violent person. A second theme is the anger they have over his alleged mistreatment and a corollary of that – a belief that their father is morally flawed i.e. womanizer, drinks too much…Letter from Dr. James Gilbertson to Julie Friedrich about Rucki children

Why did Vargas fail to confront Rucki with documentation proving abuse and safety concerns did exist? NONE of this documentation is discussed in “Footprints in the Snow”; yet it is publicly available and easily accessible.

Dr. James Gilbertson, PhD

Dr. James Gilbertson, PhD

In a parallel story, Elizabeth Vargas has publicly admitted to her own short comings as a mother when she was abusing alcohol and expressed guilt over her behavior. Did Vargas own troubled past cause her to feel sympathy for Rucki, and impair her judgment of the Grazzini-Rucki case? 

In one interview, Vargas said, “her son called her nightly glass of wine ‘Mommy’s juice’.http://people.com/tv/elizabeth-vargas-returns-to-tv-after-rehab-stint/

In another interview, Vargas admits her actions have harmed her children,Vargas doesn’t believe she ever physically endangered her children because she never drove under the influence or behaved recklessly around them. But she said her drinking may have damaged them emotionally.”

Because I didn’t physically endanger my children, doesn’t mean I didn’t devastate them or put them in danger emotionally or psychologically,” Vargas said.https://www.drugrehab.com/2016/09/09/elizabeth-vargas-talks-alcoholism-on-20-20/

Vargas also admits her alcohol problem hurt her children in another interview,”But I couldn’t stop drinking for my children. I don’t know if I will ever forgive myself for hurting my children through drinking — ever. http://www.kare11.com/entertainment/entertainment-tonight/elizabeth-vargas-opens-up-about-intense-struggle-with-alcoholism-and-anxiety-i-was-in-a-death-spin/315652736

#4 Professional Benefits

Another factor that may be influencing 20/20’s coverage of the Grazzini-Rucki case is that the news outlet has a close relationship with the therapist who conducted reunification therapy on the runaway Rucki teens.

Rebecca Bailey, Director of “Transitioning Families”, the organization that facilitated the “reunification therapy” on S.R. and G.R., is a frequent guest and commentator on 20/20. So much so that it is mentioned in her own bio: Transitioning Families – Team

For 20/20 and Vargas to admit that evidence suggests abuse may have occurred or even to raise that possibility would directly contradict the work of Bailey in the Grazzini-Rucki case. It also could undermine the cases where 20/20 had used her expertise.

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No matter what the motivations or agenda behind ABC 20/20’s outrageous coverage of the Grazzini-Rucki case are, the impact of the reckless disregard for the truth 20/20 has shown in their reporting has a far-reaching impact.

Corrupt judges and unethical family court professionals should be sent the message that when their actions hurt or endanger children and families, and when their actions overstep their professional mandates, they will be held fully accountable and face reprisal under the law. Instead, 20/20, a major news outlet, in their mishandling of the Grazzini-Rucki case, has worked to justify, and thereby embolden, the pervasive corruption and abuses of judicial power happening widely in the family court system across the U.S.

Those parents, professionals and supporters who raise concerns about what is happening in the family court system are courageous whistle blowers who often take great risks in speaking out.

That ABC 20/20 would falsely label those who raise concerns about the failures of the family court system as extremists, and exploit the tragedy of the Grazzini-Rucki case, is not only wrong but defies the purpose of investigative journalism itself.

 

UPDATE: ABC 20/20 delayed “Footprints in the Snow” and not announced when it will be re-aired. The public has flooded 20/20 with criticism for its biased reporting on the Grazzini-Rucki case, and its suppression of evidence that proves abuse has happened.

Other feedback included first-hand accounts from parents who have been involved in family court proceedings, and shared their own heart-breaking stories.

E-mail complaints, thoughts and feedback about “Footprints in the Snow” to ABC 20/20 at:

elizabeth.a.vargas@abc.com  and  sean.dooley@abc.com

Read More from Michael Volpe’s investigation into the Grazzini-Rucki case: Did 20/20 Manipulate the Rucki Story to Hide Abuse? (CDN, Michael Volpe)

 

Footprints in the Snow or Wild Goose Chase? Did ABC 20/20 Edit Audio Recordings to Suppress Evidence of Abuse in the Grazzini-Rucki Case? Pt. 2

Did ABC 20/20 edit audio recordings of David Rucki verbally abusing his young son, to portray David in a more sympathetic light? And what message does their reporting send to abuse victims, to child abuse victims?

Part One of this Series: http://wp.me/p7FXmj-2F

Attacking Zone: Clues in the Hockey References?

The next scene shows a lone David, standing in the snow, looking towards his house.

Vargas says, “He left this message after finding out his son, Nico, dropped out of hockey, his favorite long time sport.” The message from David says, “Do yourself a favor, get your ass back in hockey!”

ABC 20/20 and Vargas had obviously listened to the voicemail messages, a transcript of the messages was also available. Vargas implied that something was wrong for Nico to drop out of “his favorite long time sport.” The truth is that Nico wasn’t all that interested in hockey, and wanted to pursue acting.

David wanted Nico to continue with hockey, and hated the thought of his son becoming an actor. One voicemail David left to Nico says, “You’re making the biggest mistake of your life. You’ve got nothing other than school and sports. You can have acting, you can do all that shit, but the bottom line is Nico, you fuck this up, you never get it back.” recorded voice mail messages

Why was David so intent on having Nico participate in hockey. In my **opinion** there are two reasons. 1) David was serving as President to the local hockey association and needed to have his own children playing hockey in order to be eligible for the position. 2) David enjoyed the social aspects of hanging out at the hockey rink, drinking, and having fun. If his children were not enrolled in hockey, he would not have access to that social group.

In July 2011, David resigned from his position as President of the hockey association for “personal reasons”.  Controversy followed – there was talk that David was mismanaging the finances and abusing his position as President. In the same month that David resigned three other Board members resigned, including David’s best friend and his wife, who also served on the Board. Another Board member was removed for his role in the controversy.

Locals discuss the controversy regarding the hockey association, and David’s role in it, at this discussion board: http://www.ushsho.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=515265&sid=10e573ea5427f01484d303ab387bafe9

In my **opinion** it does not make sense that on one hand David is claiming that he is being alienated from his children, and yet his focus in the voicemails is only about hockey. You do not hear David say things like ‘I love you’ or ‘I miss you’ or ‘I can’t wait to see you again’ or even asking his son how he is doing. Instead you hear threats, shaming, guilt, and coercion – which are all tactics abusers use to gain power and control over victims.

And then to have David pressure Nico to participate in hockey also does not make sense. If Nico were to join hockey he’d spend most of his time practicing and playing games – which would taken even more time away from spending time with his father, David. Why would David encourage Nico to spend LESS time with him??

What Voicemail Transcripts Submitted in Court as Evidence Reveal

The short excerpts played on “Footprints” in the snow omitted 99% of the entire recordings. The viewers did not get to hear much of anything. Supplemented by the heavy editing was Vargas pushing her own narrative, almost as if she was drowning out the rest of the voicemail messages from being heard.

Elizabeth Vargas, journalist and anchor, ABC 20/20

Elizabeth Vargas, journalist and anchor, ABC 20/20

Vargas also failed to ask Nico about the voicemail messages because she was focused on questioning Nico about whether his mother put him up to inventing abuse allegations. Vargas must have heard the voicemail messages but she does not question Nico about them, and how it made him feel? Why?

These same voice mail messages, and others, were submitted to the family court, presided by Judge David Knutson,  in 2011 as evidence. The evidence included audio recordings, and included a written transcript of the messages as well. The voice mail messages were used to confirm that abuse was occurring, and that David’s behavior posed a danger to the children. The messages were just one piece of a much larger body of evidence suggesting abuse had occurred. Judge Knutson dismissed ALL credible evidence of abuse, without merit or legal justification.

The message Vargas refers to is titled “Message Six” and begins with, “If you have the balls to listen to this message, you’re going to find out that you’re going to regret every stupid decision you have made this summer listening to your mother…” David goes on to berate Nico, make negative and insulting comments about Sandra and uses guilt and shame tactics to manipulate Nico to do what he (David) wants.

The same message ends with this statement from David, “Your mother is holding me out with the court. There’s nothing I can do until I get through the court. Do yourself a favor and get your ass back into hockey. Don’t screw this up for yourself. You’ll regret it your whole life. And you’re going to regret it when you find out that it was your mother who lied to you.”’

For more info about the voicemail messages, plz read: Rucki Enraged: Voicemail Transcripts Reveal Threats, Emotional Abuse Against Son

In my **opinion**, if you carefully listen to what David is saying in his voicemail messages – he is telling Nico that once he gets through the court, he will have access to him, he will deal with Nico’s refusal to comply. David makes statements in his voicemail recordings that imply threats, that imply punishment and state that the only way to please his father is to do what he wants.

Statements tainclude:

I’m waiting, um, I’m still your dad, and that isn’t going to change, and we will be together soon. And I’m basically going to tell you I’m going to hold you accountable and you will have to deal with me because, you know, the way you’re treating me is wrong.

Nico, it’s your dad, still wondering why you are not going to captain’s practice. Why are you dropping out of hockey? You’re not hurting me. You’re going to regret it for the rest of your g—d damn f—ing life and I’m trying to prevent that.

What the f– is wrong with you? You know what? You f– don’t understand.

I’m just calling to remind you that you will regret this your whole life by not following through with what you started. Secondly, I am your father and I guarantee, Nico, that we will be talking soon. And when we talk, you’re going to be held accountable for how you’re acting. And I wil not let this fly. I am your father. And you will respect me.

Um, you know, I wish you would pull your head out your a– and you’d call me back and talk because you need to get some stabilization in you, because what you’re doing is self-destructive and it’s not good, it’s not healthy. A

I’m waiting, um, I’m still your dad, and that isn’t going to change, and we will be together soon. And I’m basically going to tell you I’m going to hold you accountable and you will have to deal with me because, you know, the way you’re treating me is wrong.

Nico, it’s your dad, still wondering why you are not going to captain’s practice. Why are you dropping out of hockey? You’re not hurting me. You’re going to regret it for the rest of your g—d damn f—ing life and I’m trying to prevent that.

What the f– is wrong with you? You know what? You f– don’t understand.

I’m just calling to remind you that you will regret this your whole life by not following through with what you started. Secondly, I am your father and I guarantee, Nico, that we will be talking soon. And when we talk, you’re going to be held accountable for how you’re acting. And I wil not let this fly. I am your father. And you will respect me.

Um, you know, I wish you would pull your head out your a– and you’d call me back and talk because you need to get some stabilization in you, because what you’re doing is self-destructive and it’s not good, it’s not healthy. And you know, eventually, we will be together here talking soon. Um, so you can run and hide all you want, but the sooner you confront this, the better off you’ll be.

Here’s one thing you need to think about: You’ve got one shot at life. One. And if you’re not guided properly, Nico, you will piss that away because you’re 15 years old and you don’t know your head from your a–. You’ve got a lot to learn in life. You make a mistake now, you’ll never get it back. Because you are being emotional like your mother, you will never get it back. I’m tired of all this crap I’ve been put through…

This is very extreme language, that is NOT an appropriate way to communicate to a child. It is abusive.

Why did ABC 20/20 and Elizabeth Vargas suppress these voicemail recordings? The viewers should have been allowed to hear for themselves, and come to their own conclusions. Instead the viewers were given a nicely packaged story concocted by ABC 20/20, and dramatically narrated by Vargas. The irony in all of this, is that these invented stories are no different than the alienation that Sandra is accused of.

“When someone hears about child abuse, it’s easy to assume the abuse is physical, but child abuse can also come in the emotional form. Child emotional abuse includes but isn’t limited to verbal assaults, constant belittling, making threats, ignoring the child, providing no love and exposing the child to constant family conflict.” Source: Moody Air Force Base. http://media.defense.gov

Fact or Pigeon?

The next scene from  “Footprints in the Snow” shows a courtroom and Vargas delves into a narrative of how Judge David Knutson appointed therapist to try to facilitate a relationship between David Rucki and his children.

A picture of a smiling David composed next to an order for reunification therapy, the courts suggesting Moxie, fills the screen. The court appoints an advocate, and special therapists to facilitate a relationship with their father, “the children say they don’t want one”.

Only now does Vargas mention abuse – but note the context she uses. “Nico takes to facebook, he writes my dad is a bad person, he abusive, verbally and physically…”

Didn’t the producers at ABC 20/20 and Vargas overhear some of the verbal abuse in the voicemail messages? Yet they failed to ask David about that. And failed to draw the connection between what Nico reported and what actually happened – that these recordings were in David’s own words!

Vargas goes to on talk about abuse of the runaway Rucki sisters in this way, “Gianna and Samantha make audio recordings to support what their mother says…”

Samantha’s recording is obviously emotional, her voice is choked with tears as she recounts physical abuse at the hands of her father. Vargas seems unsympathetic. 

Vargas goes on to report that Judge David Knutson found there is no proof of abuse, and the expert he appointed found “evidence of parental alienation”.  Judge Knutson decides that Sandra is the problem, and takes drastic measures.

Judge David L Knutson

Judge David L Knutson

The message being sent to victims of domestic violence, and child abuse, by ABC 20/20 and Vargas is harmful – it says if you disclose abuse, you will not be believed. Even worse, it casts suspicion on the children who bravely come forward – accusing the child victim that something is wrong with them, that they are “brainwashed”. All of this without investigation. Or if there is a report or investigation, claims of abuse are dismissed.

Abuse involves a pattern of threatening and harmful behavior inflicted on another person. When the relationship ends, the abusive behavior does not merely go away but continues in another form. There is also a term called Domestic Violence by Proxy which means that when an abusive partner no longer has access to a victim, he will try to regain control by using the children as a weapon. DV by Proxy describes abusive behavior that continues post separation – controlling behavior, stalking, harassment, legal abuse, turning a child against a parent – are all ways children are used by an abusive ex partner to regain control or inflict harm on a former partner. When court professionals fail to recognize the abuse, and how it manifests after separation, their actions and court rulings result in further harm to abuse victims, and their children. Misinformation about abuse, in turn, affects every level of society, including media outlets because there is a common presumption that judges never do wrong, that courts are always right. This is difficult for a victim of abuse to overcome; and it prevents our community from understanding abuse, and its effects, in a way that could promote ending the cycle of violence, and could assist in offering better protections to victims. 

Footprints on My Heart

An emotional Sandra, on the verge of tears, tells Vargas, “I’ve never done anything but be there for my children… my children are my life.

If anything positive is to come out of “Footprints in the Snow” I hope it is this… that wherever Sandra’s children are now, that they remember the memories shown in the home movies where mom is loving on them, and they are enjoying time spent together.

I hope her children know what Sandra has said, that the hurt and lies and forcible separation will not erase this truth: “my children are my life.” 

I hope the Rucki children know how much they are deeply loved by a mother who grieves the loss of them everyday, and who has never stopped fighting to protect them from harm and be involved in their lives. 

Because that is what I saw, as a viewer, watching “Footprints in the Snow”. And the outrage of this story is that a mother’s love and efforts to protect her children, resulted in punishment and forcible separation from those very children.

 

Footprints in the Snow or Wild Goose Chase? Did ABC 20/20 Edit Audio Recordings to Suppress Evidence of Abuse in the Grazzini-Rucki Case? Pt. 1

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Source: http://www.photos-public-domain.com. This picture is free for any use.

 

Did ABC 20/20 edit audio recordings of David Rucki verbally abusing his young son, to portray him in a more sympathetic light? And what message does their reporting send to abuse victims, to child abuse victims?

Footage from “Footprints in the Snow” suggests that ABC 20/20 and reporter Elizabeth Vargas drastically edited a recording of David Rucki leaving an angry voicemail message to his teenage son, and omitted the rest of the recording that would show that David was emotionally abusive, denigrating the mother. The recordings are part of a series of voicemail messages, one message included the sound of 6 gun shots (one for each family member).

The Justice Blog will present you with 20/20’s coverage and additional information that was not included in the episode.

Investigative journalist Michael Volpe, of Communities Digital News, has also written an article that will provide additional information, and insight: Did 20/20 Manipulate the Rucki Story to Hide Abuse? Michael Volpe (CDN)

 

Where Footprints Lead

The sequence of events in “Footrprints in the Snow” begins with Sandra Grazzini-Rucki describing to Elizabeth Vargas an incident when David Rucki violently assaulted her. Sandra says that David broke into the house, jumped on the bed and started choking her. He also tried to suffocate her with a pillow.

What 20/20 does not say is that Sandra was so afraid of David that she later installed security cameras around her home because of his violence. Security cameras captured David stalking her on numerous occasions. Neighbors were also afraid of David due to his violent behavior, and has also installed security cameras around their own home, and filed a harassment restraining order against him.

David Rucki Stalking Photos, Police Report

Information about HRO filed against David Rucki by a neighbor

 

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Elizabeth Vargas, ABC 20/20 Anchor, Journalist. Source: http://88-celebrity.blogspot.com

 

The next scene is an image of five smiling Rucki children, taken at Christmas, posing with Santa. Sandra is standing at the left side of the picture. David is absent. The photo is not dated, nor is any context given.

 

Vargas says, “The children now ages 8-14 now remain in Sandra’s custody and refuse to even see David; rebuffing all of his attempts to connect.” Note” Vargas is reporting ONLY David’s perspective, that of Sandra and the children is excluded.
The next scene begins with the image of a telephone key pad, you hear the ping of numbers being dialed. Viewers are given just tiny bits of audio of David saying, “This is your Dad, call me. I would like you to call me back.” These two lines are a tiny piece of a larger body of recorded voicemail messages, and a transcript of those messages that David left for his son, Nico. The tone of these messages is clearly threatening, hostile and verbally abusive. Yet you’d never know that if you solely relied on ABC 20/20 and Vargas’ reports.: recorded voice mail messages
Vargas says in a dramatic tone, “With his children ignoring him, his frustration mounts…”
Note: Vargas adopts David’s term “frustration”. David uses this term frequently to describe his angry and abusive behavior.

Keep in mind these are children who has witnessed their father violently assault their mother and had reported numerous acts of emotional and physical abuse – leaving comments on social media, making reports to therapists, GALs, Judge Knutson, police, social workers, CPS, friends. The story that Samantha and Gianna Rucki have recounted about the abuse has not changed – those they encountered after they ran away recall that the girls appeared frightened of their father, spoke of abuse, and their behavior itself indicated abuse occurredMultiple Witness Reports: Rucki Sisters Fearful of Father, Felt Safe at Ranch/

In another report involving abuse, CPS reports from the Rucki girls indicate they were victims of abuse from their father. And had witnessed various forms of physical and emotional abuse inflicted on their mother, and saw visible bruises. Nico also reports to CPS that his father put a gun to his head.The CPS system also failed the Rucki children by screening out multiple reports of abuse.: https://www.scribd.com/doc/316692570/SamiRucki

CPS screened out many of the reports of abuse. Other professionals ignored or minimized the children’s cries for help. And then Sandra became the target – instead of investigating the abuse, Sandra was wrongly accused of brainwashing her children so they would invent allegations of abuse against their father. The message in this – the children are being told their concerns are not valid, and that something is wrong with them for reporting abuse.

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