Unedited Footage from ABC 20/20 – Reveals How Far ABC Will Go to Suppress Abuse in Grazzini-Rucki Case

Behind the scenes footage from the 2016 taping of ABC’s “Footprints in the Snow” suggests that ABC 20/20 suppressed evidence of abuse in the Grazzini-Rucki case, and slanted the story, in order to portray mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, and friend, Dede Evavold, as “vigilante parents” and “family court critics” who participated in a child-kidnapping network operating in a “hidden world”. In pushing this false story, ABC 20/20 covered up domestic abuse, and encouraged viewers to disregard cries for help from children who courageously spoke up to disclose the physical and mental abuse they endured at the hands of a violent father.

 

The video “ABC’s 20/20 Producer Sean Dooley interviews Dede Evavold for Footprints in the Snow April 2016 Broadcast” shows raw footage of producer Sean Dooley interviewing Dede Evavold. Dede is a friend of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki who became involved in the Grazzini-Rucki case by helping Sandra’s teen daughters S.R. and G.R. find a place to stay after they ran away when the family court failed to protect them from their abusive father, David Rucki. The behind the scenes footage offers Dede’s side of the story, in her own words. Comparing this raw footage to the finished product, it is clear “Footprints” is highly editorialized by ABC 20/20 and its portrayal of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and “supporters” does not accurately reflect their story or experiences.

Dede Evavold (Source: Linked In)

During the interview, ABC producer Sean Dooley admits that he is aware of allegations that runaway sisters, S.R. and G.R., were being abused by their father and if returned to his care they could potentially be abused again. This is a side of the Grazzini-Rucki case never presented in “Footprints”. When asking Dede about the role of the Dahlens (who sheltered the girls on a therapeutic horse ranch), Dooley says, (24:11),”You knew they were safe.. what I guess I’m ..the point I’m trying to get at is you know is this a situation where you felt like what was most important was to ensure that these two teenage girls were in a safe environment and so what you knew about the Dahlens, you felt comfortable saying you knew that they were safe. So that they weren’t going to be with their father, they weren’t going to be put back into a situation where they were potentially at risk of being abused…”

The importance of this remark is that it shows that Dooley clearly understood Dede’s reasons for getting involved after S.R. and G.R. ran away were to protect the children from abuse – yet when “Footprints” aired, ABC 20/20 pushed a completely false narrative and mischaracterized Sandra and “supporters” as radical “activists”.

Sean Dooley wrote a response to journalist Michael Volpe stating ABC stands by their report, and did not suppress information about abuse. Read the response here: ABC Response – Footprints

Sean Dooley (Source: Linked In)

During the interview, Dede repeatedly asks Dooley to “dig deeper” and investigate how the failures of the court to keep the Rucki children safe from abuse caused teen sisters S.R. and G.R. to run away in April 2013.

Dede says, “There shouldn’t have to be a time where children have to runaway because they are fearful. If the system was in place, and it was set up on how it’s supposed to function, they (S.R. and G.R.) would have never had to run. And you hear a lot that the family courts are broken.. they are not broken, they are well designed, there’s a well-designed operation..the court system really functions on conflict for profit.”

 

Dede remains calm throughout the interview, stating everything she has done was to protect S.R. and G.R. from being further harmed. While the sisters remained in hiding, Dede says, she worked to find a solution to keep the girls safe, and return them home. Dede said several times during the interview that she was not fearful. – It is obvious that Dede placed concern for S.R. and G.R. above her own situation, even when she was facing jail for efforts to protect them. Dede said she was hopeful that when “Footprints” aired that the allegations of abuse would be revealed and that someone, finally, would help the Rucki children.

 

Just the opposite happened – Dooley and ABC 20/20 not only suppressed information about abuse in the Grazzini-Rucki case but sympathized with Rucki, who is portrayed in “Footprints” as a victim of an “epic divorce”. Rucki’s lengthy criminal record, and propensity towards violence is also suppressed.

Elizabeth Vargas, former journalist and anchor, ABC 20/20

Although Dooley was informed of, and provided with evidence, of abuse in the Grazzini-Rucki case, ” the Rucki children were labeled as “brainwashed” and victims of “parental alienation”. ABC 20/20 encouraged viewers not to listen to, or believe, the children’s allegations of abuse or cries for help.

Both S.R. and G.R. have been very vocal in stating they are not “brainwashed” and were not coached by their mother, and that the abuse did, in fact, happen.

As noted in social service records from November 2015, recorded after the sisters were discovered living on the Dahlen’s ranch, S.R. says,”They were told by so many people that they were brainwashed and needed to be de-programmed. She never felt they were brainwashed.”

 

As for G.R., the social worker says, “Her dad would stalk the house when they were with mom. He showed anger like ‘I’m gonna kill you’. She got no hugs growing up. One time after a hockey game her dad rubbed her inner thigh. Dad shoved her mom often…She still feels fear of her dad, she does not know what he is like today… She does not feel her mother played a role in her thoughts or feelings about her dad.https://www.scribd.com/doc/316692570/SamiRucki

It should be noted that this Dakota County social worker believed that S.R. and G.R. were victims of abuse, and needed to be protected from Rucki. The social worker advocated in court for the girls during the November 2015 hearing, advising they be placed in foster care and that Rucki only be allowed supervised visits. (Nov 2015) Social Worker Recommended – Protective Care for Rucki Girls, Supervised Visits With Father Due to Safety Concerns/

S.R. and G.R. were also appointed a lawyer, who fought to keep the girls in foster care for safety reasons. ABC 20/20 failed to mention any of this in “Footprints”.

Juvenile Court judge, Michael Mayer, disagreed and placed S.R. and G.R. back into the custody of Rucki. S.R. and G.R. were escorted from the courtroom by a guard who transported them to California to participate in a reunification therapy program. 20/20 portrays the program as successful, citing the girls didn’t run away. However, social service records note that the girls promised the social worker they would not run if sent to California. – It wasn’t the program that prevented S.R. and G.R. from attempting to run away, it was a promise made to a social worker, the only person in the system that believed them and tried to help. EPC Hearing Transcript Nov 30, 2015

 

At the time S.R. and G.R. were placed back into his custody, Rucki was on probation for a road rage incident where he followed a motorist, and ambushed him in a parking lot, beating the victim until he was bloodied and bruised. ABC 20/20 fails to mention this in “Footprints”; even as this behavior shows Rucki’s propensity towards violence.druckipolicereports

 

Despite overwhelming evidence of his abuse, reporter Elizabeth Vargas remains a strong supporter of David Rucki. During “Footprints”, Vargas says it is quote “total vindication” that Dakota County family court judge, David L. Knutson, denied any abuse had occurred then awarded sole custody to Rucki. At the time of the 2012 custody order, Rucki was on probation for a violation of a protective order against Sandra. Vargas goes on to say that “David works to mend his fractured relationship with them..” ignoring  records that reveal all five of the Rucki children had disclosed that Rucki had physically and mentally abused them, and had threatened their lives. The response of the family court was NOT to protect the children, but, instead order them into “deprogramming” and “reunification therapy” to force them to recant abuse allegations, and accept a relationship with Rucki. Court records document the visible fear the children felt towards their father, including one of the children becoming physically ill and having to leave the room after being forced into a session with Rucki.

 

S.R. and G.R. have consistently stated they ran away for one reason, and one reason only – and that is because they were being abused by their father, and feared for their lives because the court was working to place them into his custody. The system, at every level, failed to protect them.

 

Consider this note from the social worker who interviewed S.R. in November 2015, “The police told them not to call unless someone was being killed…

 

When ABC, a major news organization, sympathizes with a violent abuser, and uses its broadcast as a smear campaign against the victims it sends a dangerous message … Does someone really need to be killed before the cries for help from an abused child are taken seriously?

 

Source: More Unedited 20/20 Footage

 

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Rucki Child Speaks Out – Social Media Post Offers Glimpse From Months Leading Up to Disappearance of Sisters

May 13, 2013 - Diary posted by Rucki child online

May 13, 2013 – Diary posted by Rucki child online

Dakota County, Minn: A shocking piece of evidence suppressed by Judge Karen Asphaug during the criminal trial of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki is being publicly posted – see for yourself what the jury was not allowed to consider.

Judge Karen Asphaug suppressed 75% of defense evidence in the Grazzini-Rucki criminal trial and refused to allow several witnesses to testify, including a witness to David Rucki’s violent behavior and another witness who is an expert on domestic violence. Grazzini-Rucki raised the affirmative defense, meaning her involvement in the disappearance of her two teenage daughters resulted not from criminal intent but because she had a reasonable belief that the present environment posed imminent harm to her children. Grazzini-Rucki’s defense depended on showing the reasons why she feared for the safety of her children – which was contained in the exhibits jurors were not allowed to see.

Judge Karen Asphaug (Twitter)

Judge Karen Asphaug (Twitter)

Under these unjust circumstances, Grazzini-Rucki was convicted on 6 counts of felony deprivation of parental rights after the defense was limited in what it could present to the jury, and otherwise constrained. Grazzini-Rucki has appealed the conviction. 

There will be no appeal for the five Rucki children – who have been sentenced to live with their abusive father, David Rucki (who was on probation for a violation of a protective order when granted custody). The Rucki children have raised allegations of abuse, and asked to live with their mother only to be ignored by the family court, Guardian ad Litem and professionals, charged with protecting them. The evidence is overwhelming that Dakota County has conspired to take custody from a fit, loving parent and place these children in an abusive, dysfunctional environment.

A social media post, of what appears to be a diary, written by one of the Rucki children, and posted on May 13, 2013, offers a glimpse into the thoughts and feelings of a child living in an unimaginable nightmare.

Screenshot Rucki Child Diary

Screenshot Rucki Child Diary

This child attempted to run away, along with 4 siblings after Judge David L. Knutson forced Grazzini-Rucki out of her home on September 7, 2012, and temporarily transferred custody to paternal aunt, Tammy Jo Love (who never filed a motion for custody). Incredibly, all 4 children attempted to run away upon hearing the news – and the older children were not in the same location as the younger ones, meaning there was no planning, but rather a reaction based on fear alone. 

4bebc-brodkorb_rucki_love_elliot_donehower_19av-fa-11-1273_012616

The child was later found wandering down a busy street, more than 2 miles away from home, crying for mother. The child told police that Love had been abusive, and that if returned to her care, would run away again. Though a mandated reporter, the police never filed a report with CPS. Due to safety concerns, temporary custody of the Rucki children was instead transferred to a maternal aunt.

Seven months later, Judge Knutson again attempted to transfer the Rucki children into Love’s care. The only reason the two younger Rucki children did not succeed in running away was because they were detained at school, and physically prevented. The older two sisters, S.R. and G.R. did succeed in running away, and remained in hiding for 2 years; although the sisters had every opportunity to go home they chose not to, believing they would not be safe in the care of Love, or their father, David Rucki.

The  author of this social media post describes their feelings in the months before – and after – older sisters S.R. and G.R. ran away on April 19, 2013. The diary was written on what appears to be a dry erase board and includes one word statements with a date to indicate when they were written. Many of the statements include what you would expect from a pre-teen, but there are also troubling statements that show signs of fear, and indicate a problem. The words: “Scared”, “Killed” “Miserable”, “Creeped” and “Escaping” are included along with drawings, that include faces with wide eyes and gaping mouths.

The importance of this diary is that it is the only publicly available record that offers a first-hand account from one of the Rucki children – in their own words, without being altered or manipulated. Each entry is dated, which provides a picture of the mental and emotional state of this child in the crucial months involving court hearings (the children were present in court at some of the hearings the request of Dr. Gilbertson, and also spoke with judge David L. Knutson) that ultimately lead up to a transfer of custody, and then sisters S.R. and G.R. running away on April 19, 2013 in fear for their lives.

Judge David L Knutson

Judge David L Knutson

In an interview with Yahya McClain (12/28/16), Sandra Grazzini-Rucki said her children wanted to speak to the court, and wanted to be heard, but the court would not allow them to provide input, and instead worked to silence them. In fact, Judge David L. Knutson spoke to the Rucki children in chambers on Feb 26th 2013, and sealed the transcript after the children spoke about abuse; thereby blocking the abuse allegations from being entered into the record. An entry from the former Carver County Corruption blog have preserved what S.R. and G.R. wanted to tell Judge Knutson, Dr. Gilbertson and GAL Julie Friedrich, their personal note along with a cover letter were sent to 150 Representatives and Senators in Minnesota shortly before S.R. and G.R. ran away (below). The highest levels of government in Minnesota have been made aware of the egregious abuses of power and violations of law happening in the Grazzini-Rucki case.. and so far have not responded. How many more families need to be victimized, and how many children more need to be abused before the State of Minnesota will do something to hold out of control judges, and related family court professionals, accountable?

Another way the Rucki children have been silenced, and their testimony altered, is by unethical treatment from court-appointed therapist Dr. James Gilbertson, who conducted“reunification therapy” on the Rucki children. Some of the sessions with Dr. Gilbertson included forcing the Rucki children to attend court hearings where they were forced to listen to painful details of the family’s troubles. Judge Knutson and Dr. Gilbertson used mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, as an example to demonstrate his power over their lives and send an intimidating message to the children. Grazzini-Rucki was the primary caregiver, and shared a close loving relationship with her children. There were times she shielded her children from Rucki’s rage by putting her body in front of his fists. Imagine then, the horror the Rucki children must have felt watching their mother, their protector being humiliated and re-abused in the family court; laws easily broken with just the wave of a gavel.

On February 6, 2013, Dr. Gilbertson wrote a letter to Guardian ad Litem Julie Friedrich (link below) that the court needed to take an “assertive stance” with the children and stated,The presence of the court, a bailiff nearby, my own presence, and then meeting with father, in my opinion, would deal with the fears they experience, either real or imagined.”

And,”I understand this may represent a somewhat unorthodox recommendation, but I do not believe there could be a bridging of the gap between the children and their father, at this point in time, unless all are physically present under the authoritative and safe umbrella of the court.”

These are children we are talking about – frightened, vulnerable children who are being treated by Judge Knutson, and the players in this family court case, like prisoners of war.

rucki-children2

During one of these hearings, the Rucki children sat in a conference room for several hours before being addressed by the court – during that time Dr. Gilbertson witnessed that the children were “anxious” and “apprehensive”. Dr. Gilbertson also noted that the Rucki children wanted – of their own free will – to have a say in what happens to them. In response, Dr. Gilbertson admitted to giving the children “factual knowledge” about the case – i.e. feeding information to influence them. Dr. Gilbertson also noted that he children make requests to see their mother, but not their father.

Dr. James Gilbertson, PhD

Dr. James Gilbertson, PhD

The child who authored this diary entry was subjected to reunification therapy which involved breaking down the child’s will in order to suppress memories of abuse, so with a “blank slate” the child could be programmed to accept a relationship with an identified abuser. This is why reunification therapy is also referred to as “de-programming” – the child is actually being told what to think, believe and feel.

S.R. has made various statements indicating this has happened – stating the therapist and the Guardian ad Litem gave her false information, and specifically made negative comments about her mother in an attempt to influence her. S.R. also says that when she spoke about abuse she was called a liar and told that she needed “de-programming”. Dr. Gilbertson has admitted that “therapy” also included explaining to the Rucki children why they could not see their mother.

Instead of identifying the cause of that fear, Dr. Gilbertson’s treatment involved “exposing them to the object they fear” i.e. father, in order to “desensitize” them.Dr. Gilbertson asked that GAL Julie Friedrich clear her schedule to plan for a 2 hour session to “desensitize” the Rucki children. Dr. Gilbertson is talking about holding 5 frightened children in a room inside the courthouse with a bailiff guarding the door, and using the authority of the court to force these children to recant abuse allegations, and develop a bond with an identified abuser who they are terrified of. Let’s be clear – this is not “therapy”, it is psychological torture. The methods Dr. Gilbertson used on the Rucki children do not meet the standards of trauma based therapy, and certainly no credible psychologist would attempt “therapy” on 5 children all at one time, failing to address or consider the individual needs of each child.

After S.R. and G.R. ran away, reunification therapy continued with the 2 younger children. Reports written AFTER the events of April 19, 2013, indicate the child who authored this post continued in reunification therapy and continued to showed fear of Rucki. The child also would leave the room when Rucki entered and avoided physical contact with him. Similarly,  investigative reports showed similar behaviors present in S.R. and G.R. Witnesses who interacted with the sisters during the time they stayed on the Ranch, recalled they were fearful, avoided physical contact, and spoke about abuse (see Dahlen investigative report below). These types of emotional and behavioral reactions are common with children who have experienced abuse and trauma; yet Dr. Gilbertson completely ignored all evidence and information suggesting abuse had occurred, and worked to intimidate the Rucki children even as they are crying out for help. 

The diary entry you are about to read is the voice of a child who may not even exist anymore – reunification therapy forces a child to suppress who they really are, and become a child the court approves of. There is no success in treatments like these, the relationship that results is not one of love or trust, but instead a relationship based on trauma bonding.

Despite all this child has had to endure, they also show incredible courage in posting a family photo taken with Sandra. A playful image shows laughter, and demonstrates the closeness once shared….

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and children continue to be estranged due to the forcible actions of the court, and due the actions of a dangerous abuser. Photographs and perhaps a few stubborn memories that have resisted “de-programming”, are all they have to hold onto each other.

Diary, Posted 5/13/2013 by Rucki Child Include the Following:

4/2/13 Sick

4/4/13 Headache

4/6/13 Woe (means sorry, grief or misery)

4/8/13 Killed

4/11/13 Scared

4/12/13 Wow

4/21/13 Crappy

4/22/13 612-308-0512

POSTED MONDAY, MAY 13, 2013 AT 8:36 pm

2/2/13 Silly

2/7/13 Drained

2/12/13 Lazy

2(?)/12/13 Creeped written in black next to the word Miserable

2/23/13 Dent (?) Pho next to it is a picture that could be a bowl of noodles. The word Bic and what could be a pen.

2/27/13 Goofy – Next to this picture is the word “Pain” and then a picture of an eye, a hand on a book, an unknown shape and a face with large eyes and a mouth, wide open showing scared

2/28/13 Colored in block letters that read Freake! Next to this in blue, date unknown, is the word Fall

3/2/13 Worried

3/3/13, 3 pm Worried (includes a face)

3/5/13 Stupid

3/8/13 Animal

3/9/13 Creeped includes a face drawn in black with two eyes peering out

3/11/13 Prankster

3/12/13 Gleeful next to a pair of pom-poms and a smiling face

3/13/13 Gleek

3/14/13 Nervous – a face is drawn next to the words with eyebrows, cartoonish black eyes and a face that appears to be smiling

3/16/13 Rainbowed

3/17/13 Green St Patty’s Day

3/19/13 Ignored

3/20/13 Awful

3/21/13 Escaping – Underneath, date unknown, Bored written in black and red

3/21/13 Screwed picture of a screw drawn underneath – Next to it is some words scribbled in orange

3/28/13 Palmed – Underneath, not dated, Silly

4/2/13 Sick

4/4/13 Headache

4/6/13 Woe (means sorry, grief or misery)

4/8/13 Killed

4/11/13 Scared

4/12/13 Wow

4/21/13 Crappy

4/22/13 612-308-0512

4/28/13 Funky

5/4/13 Annoyed – includes a frowning face

(The Justice blog has tried to provide a complete record as possible, these notes are based on what can be visually seen in the diary entry)

 

FROM THE CARVER COUNTY CORRUPTION BLOG:

On September 7, 2012, Judge Knutson said an emergency required him to remove the five children from their mother’s care. He said mother had the condition of Parental Alienation syndrome (PAS). That condition is based on the theory that if a child dislikes a parent, the cause is the other parent.
He appointed a therapist, Dr. James Gilbertson, to “re-program” the children to like their father. The children say their father has abused them and their mother.
At a conference on February 26, 2013, two of the children told the judge the following:
14 year old girl
“I am 14 and in June I will be 15.I am here today to say a few thing to not only you but Ms. Friedrich and Dr. Gilbertson.
“I would first like to say I am appalled by the way this court has treated me and my brothers and sisters.
I have not only been called fat a number of times by Julie Friedrich but have been ask if I was pregnant and been called a down right liar by not only Ms. Friedrich but also Dr. Gilbertson. I’m not only disgusted be the way they talk to me, my brothers and sister, but pissed at the way this court has accuse me of being a liar. I’m 14 and in a couple of months I will be 15. I know the difference between a lie and the truth.
I stand here today to tell you the truth about my father. To begin with, he has not only told my family that he is homicidal, but sat us down at kitchen table and yelled at us saying that he was not only going to kill me but my brothers, sister and mom. Not even a week later I received a horrifying voicemail of 6 gunshots. He has also choked, slapped, and hit and verbally abused my mother repeatedly throughout their. marriage. He also has lost it on us kids more than a number of time physically and verbally. Also he has made sexual comments to me over the year about my boobs look bigger and so forth and over the year many of my friends could not hang out with me because of my father. The day my father officially moved out of the Ireland place home was not only a day of peace and happiness but safety in the household.
“And second I would like to say it was absolutely absurd of you to remove us from our mom’s care. She has been nothing but loving and our rock and you not only removing us from us from her but not letting have contact with her for 6 months, 19 days except for the one 3 hour meeting on January 11. It is down right cruel, ruthless of this court. I ask you to let me live with my mom, let me be happy because all this courtroom has done has cause misery and heartache. Thank you for your time.”
13 year old girl
“Your Honor,
I am 13 years old. I am here to speak my voice because I have never been given the opportunity to do so.
My father has frightened and hurt my family. After the divorce was final, my father kept repeatedly threatening and shocking myself and my bothers and sister and my mother. I have been called a liar and have not been able to say what I believe without a court member discriminating me.
I wish to be with my mother, because my father has brought nothing but pure torture to my family.”
Julie Friedrich is the court appointed guardian ad litem. Sandra Grazzini-Rucki filed a complaint against the Guardian ad Litem, the Minnesota State Guardian ad Litem Board has never formally investigated her complaint or taken any action against either GAL involved – Julie Friedrich, and Laura Miles.
Guardian ad Litem Julie Friedrich

Guardian ad Litem Julie Friedrich

 

For More Information:

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 

Investigative Report Dahlen/Rucki

Letter from Dr. James Gilbertson to Julie Friedrich about Rucki children

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

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki convicted of hiding daughters (CDN)

(Nov 2015) Social Worker Recommended – Protective Care for Rucki Girls, Supervised Visits With Father Due to Safety Concerns

Public Domain Image: Pixaby

(Hasting, Dakota County, Minn): Court records reveal that a Dakota County social worker, believed abuse allegations raised by S.R. and G.R.  and fought to keep them in foster care in order to protect them from their father, David Rucki.

EPC Hearing Transcript Nov 30, 2015 (See page 23 for social worker’s recommendations)

During an Emergency Protective Care (EPC) hearing held on November 30, 2015, a Dakota County social worker recommended the Rucki sisters, S.R. and G.R., remain in protective care (for placement in foster care), and that “visitation between the parent and children would remain supervised, the extent and duration of which shall be determined by Social Services”. Parent meaning David Rucki, who petitioned the court that S.R. and G.R. be returned to his care.

The social worker made these recommendation after S.R. and G.R. (p.2-8) recounted allegations of abuse, and described fear of their father, David Rucki. Grazzini-Rucki Social Services File, CPS Records

Reports from the social worker include the following statements shared by S.R. that her father is violent and that “home life was awful prior to the divorce“. Both sisters also reported that Rucki abused alcohol and was often drunk. 

Interviewed S.R. at the foster home on 11/23/2015. S.R. went through the family history with the worker. She was 12 when her parents divorced. Home life was awful prior to the divorce. They tip-toed around dad and he was physically abusive to her mom. Dad ripped off the leg of the organ and ran after her mom. She would have bruises here and there. Dad was rough with S.R. on occasion where he would grab her a few times and shook her. He was mostly emotionally abusive…He drank a lot and was often at bars. Once when they were not living with dad (and were living with mom) there was no more tip-toeing and no more yelling. S.R. said it felt good and she felt free in her own house.” S.R. also added that although people said she was being brain washed and needed de-programming, she never felt that way. S.R. said she would run away if returned to father (David Rucki’s) care.

G.R. shared with the social worker that Rucki took her to bars and threatened to kill the family,”She reports that dad was always screaming at mom. Neighbors called their home the ‘Scream House’. She thought the home situation was normal as she did not know any different. She never had a strong relationship with her dad. He would take her to the bar after dance or hockey. She states a big weight was lifted off her shoulders after the divorce. Mom would have bruises from dad, she would never see this occur but knew it had. She has seen him shove her. She feels her dad was mentally abusive, he was always yelling and ‘it took a toll on all of us’. She states they lived a dysfunctional life.”

G.R. also stated,”Her dad would stalk the house when they were with mom. He showed anger like, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ “ G.R. said she was not being influenced by her mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki. Just the opposite – she expressed feeling controlled by her father, and that she is afraid of him. G.R. also said that she will run if returned to father (David Rucki’s) care.

S.R. and G.R. told the social worker that they would not run if they were allowed to remain in foster care, and also agreed to attend school and to go to counseling.

The recommendations of the social worker were supported by both sisters, who were represented by an attorney. The attorney requested that the child protection case proceed, and that safety issues would exist if they were returned to the care of David Rucki. The attorney also argued that sending the sisters to a program out of state is not in the best interest of S.R. and G.R., because there is a risk that they could run away again. The attorney requested on behalf of S.R. and G.R. that they remain in foster care.

What teenager begs to be put in foster care? Clearly S.R. and G.R. were greatly afraid of Rucki. That they would go to such great lengths to be away from him demonstrates the panic and fear that lead them to run away on two separate occasions, going into hiding after running away for the second time on April 19, 2013.

David Rucki

David Rucki

It should be noted that the abuse allegations made by S.R. and G.R. have not changed in all the years of they have asked for help. The consistency of their statements shows they are credible, and not being influenced. In addition there are multiple sources of evidence that support their statements. For example, when G.R. says that her father was “stalking the house” those remarks are validated by an OFP and numerous police reports filed by mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki. Video surveillance has also documented the stalking, and recorded David Rucki’s shadowy form appearing at the home Sandra and the children lived in, night after night. In another police report filed in June 2011, Rucki chased S.R. and a group of friends down the street on her birthday. The terrified teenagers ran into a neighbor’s house in fear of their safety. Rucki chased the girls into the house, and was witnessed banging on the door and yelling. Police were called on that occasion and despite Sandra’s pleas to file charges for an OFP violation, police declined stating the children are not covered by the protective order. Even if that were true, Rucki had violated the OFP by coming within 350 feet of the home, and should have been charged.

In addition, David Rucki has a long criminal history that attests to his propensity towards violence. In fact, at the time of the November 2015 hearing, Rucki was on probation for a road rage incident where he followed then brutally beat a fellow motorist, punching him the face and mouth with such force that the victim was knocked to his knees. After pounding the motorist with his fists, Rucki walked away as if nothing had happened and went into a grocery store to do some shopping.  Some of Rucki’s criminal records can be viewed here: http://theeprovocateur.blogspot.com/2016/05/david-ruckis-greatest-hits.html

Judge Michael Mayer, who presided over the EPC hearing, ignored the recommendations of the social worker, as well as the history of abuse. Judge Mayer also ignored the requests of the S.R. and G.R., who were represented by an attorney. Instead of getting the protection and care they so desperately needed, the sisters were shipped out of state to “reunification therapy” under the escort of a security guard. In “reunification therapy” S.R. and G.R. were forced to recant abuse allegations and made to accept being under the control of Rucki, as part of their “treatment”. Judge Mayer acknowledged that the S.R. and G.R. were “angry” with him and would not happy with his ruling. What Judge Mayer could not understand is that the sisters were not angry – they were in a desperate fight for their lives, and their future.

At every level, those who were responsible to ensure the well-being of the five Rucki children (police, court appointed reunification therapist, Guardian ad Litem, judges etc) not only failed to protect them but have created an environment that allows corruption, and judicial misconduct to thrive in Dakota County, setting a dangerous precedent should other courts follow this path of lawlessness.

 

TearsDakotaCounty

 

Note: The surveillance photos documenting the stalking, previous police reports and Rucki’s criminal history were suppressed by Judge Karen Asphaug in the criminal trial of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, and not allowed to be submitted as evidence, or presented to the jury. Suppression of evidence made it impossible for Sandra to prove the affirmative defense she raised, and with no other choice, the jury found her guilty of 6 counts of felony deprivation of parental rights.

For more information on Sandra’s conviction, please read:  Sandra Grazzini-Rucki convicted of hiding daughters – The decision came after the judge disallowed the majority of defense evidence

 

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.

ViolateOFP2

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