David Rucki is so violent, and so abusive that he beat ex-wife Sandra Grazzini-Rucki while pregnant, and assaulted his unborn before the child even took his first breath. As a result of the beating, the child was born prematurely (and suffers with permanent health problems).
This, according to, statements Sandra Grazzini-Rucki made during a heart-wrenching episode of Fighting B.A.C.K. (Aired: 6/19/2017) During the episode, Sandra also reveals that Rucki threatened to harm her children as a way to gain control over her through fear and intimidation.
The shocking revelation came when Sandra responded to a guest who was describing her own situation with domestic violence, and how her child was affected. The guest says her abusive ex used her child as a weapon, and would even retaliate by hurting the child, as a way to intimidate and control her. Sandra said that hearing the guest’s story reminded her of the violent marriage she escaped from.
The National Institutes of Health reports that over 300,000 pregnant women in the U.S. are victims to domestic violence, with domestic violence being the leading cause of death among U.S. women of childbearing age.
(Note: This article contains additional information on these incidents, as provided by a confidential source – which are told in the first person voice to illustrate Sandra’s horrifying experience, and told in this way raise awareness of the impact of domestic violence experienced during pregnancy)
Rucki’s Assault on an Unborn Baby: “I was kicked repeatedly in the stomach (because) he was ‘not a perfect child’…”
Imagine the horror Sandra surely experienced and felt:
Lying on a gurney, hands desperately clutch swollen belly, trying to hold back contractions… as she fades in and out of consciousness, she pleads,”No, no, it’s too soon…”
How would she explain the bruises this time? The violent assault against her unborn left her belly black and blue, bleeding on the inside… she realized too late that she married a demon in the flesh. Raging he stood over her kicking again and again… spit flying from his mouth as he screamed and swore..
Loud voice, someone shouting her name… she screamed and threw her arms out… The beep-beep of a fetal monitor going wild… She struggled to open her eyes, not comprehending, plastic IV tubing twisting as she fought… frightened by the sound of her name being called. Was she safe?
Signs of life.. a faint and erratic heart beat … tiny, seashell shaped knees raised to chest then violently kick out… Even the hospital could not protect her once he realized the baby he tried to kill was now fighting back.
(28:21) Sandra says: “When my youngest child was born, he (David Rucki) was under the belief that this was not going to be a ‘perfect child’ when I was kicked repeatedly into the stomach and went into pre-term labor, and gave birth, and he (Rucki) said, I want him gone rather than have a kid that’s not perfect because it’s more about me than it is about him…”
The child has been permanently affected by the assault inflicted on him while in the womb, and will suffer with lifelong health issues.
Rucki Threatens to Chop Baby Up in a Ceiling Fan
All she wanted was to be a wife and mother, to have a home filled with laughter and children. Instead the children tip-toed through the rooms like ghosts – vainly trying to remain silent and unseen, as if they could avoid their father’s rage.
The children… where were the children? So much they should not see… the violence, the tears… the fake apologies… Hiding somewhere in the house. Hands slammed over their small ears. Tears filling their eyes. They feared not the mythical monster in the closet that most children imagine but the very real monster in the house, their father.
(28:06) Sandra says: “When my oldest child was 3 months old, my ex-husband David Rucki grabbed him from the bassinet, held him up to a ceiling fan and said, ‘You will do as I say or he is going into the fan…’”
(29:03) Sandra says: “Sometimes when you talk about things it reminds me of things that David Rucki did and yet these are the men that have our children… You talk about this and I know, I will never forget when David held the baby up to the ceiling fan and said ‘You do what I say or he’s (chokes on words) .. they have no concern for the child, it’s more of a control issue…”
Rucki Promised to Change But Then Threatened to Kill Sandra, and the Children
Runaway Rucki Teen, G.R. also stated,”…He showed anger like, ‘I’m going to kill you…’ “ (Social Service Report, November 2015: Social Worker Recommended – Protective Care for Rucki Girls, Supervised Visits With Father Due to Safety Concerns)
Sandra says during the marriage, Rucki repeatedly promised to change but always resorted back to his abusive behavior. Sandra says Rucki even threatened to kill “your children” if she did not comply with his demands.
Sandra says physical, mental and sexual abuse existed in the generations of the Rucki family and influenced David Rucki’s abusive behavior and attitude towards his own children. David Rucki promised Sandra that he would not abuse his own children the way he was abused by his father, and the way he witnessed his father abuse his sisters. Cut from the same fabric, David Rucki, in the end, turned out to be just as abusive, and dangerous to his own children as Fred Rucki was to him, and his sisters.
Family Court: The Two Options That Trap Victims of Domestic Violence
“I think that is so sad that as a parent in an abusive relationship, why is it that your two options are: stay, being abused, have your child grow up in this environment filled with insecurities, tension and violence or leave and risk losing your child and continuing to suffer…” – Comment from “Fighting Back” Guest, a Mother also involved in family court who lost custody of her baby to an alleged abuser
Sandra says that her children went to everyone asking for help and that every level of the system has failed to protect them.
Instead of protecting children, family court Judge David L Knutson, Dakota County, has assisted David Rucki in every step through the legal process to continue to abuse, torment and attempt to kill Sandra by making it impossible to survive. Judge Knutson has also endangered the lives of all 5 Rucki children by placing them under the care, custody and ultimately the control of David Rucki. Even as adults the Rucki children have been unable to escape their father and live independent lives of their own due to his violence against them.
(Courtroom 2F, Dakota County Judicial Center, Minnesota) Judge David L. Knuston aka “Korrupt Knutson” presides over yet another controversial case – this time giving a drastic downward departure, meaning a sentence more lenient than recommended by guidelines, for an unlicensed daycare provider convicted of brutally assaulting, and nearly killing, a 13 month old boy.
Due to the severity of the injuries, the child was not expected to survive – today he is 2 years old and suffering from permanent brain damage.
Has justice been served? In two separate high-profile cases – the Sandra Grazzini-Rucki divorce/custody case and the criminal trial of child predator Dennis Roy – Judge Knutson showed leniency to a perpetrator of child abuse, and gave sympathy instead of prison.
A deeper look into all three of these cases suggests a pattern that Judge Knutson’s reckless disregard for the safety of children, and for public safety, has enabled dangerous abusers to avoid the punishment their heinous crimes warrant. Is the public safe with Judge Knutson on the bench?
#1 – The Merchant Case (2016/2017) : No Prison for Daycare Provider Who Nearly Killed a Toddler
Background: On September 22, 2016, parents Jessica and John Merchant say their child “WM” was in good health, and showed no sign of any problems, the day he was dropped off at the home of Mariel Alexandra Grimm. Grimm, a mother and unlicensed daycare provider, had been watching “WM” since he was 9 weeks old. Grimm says that after being dropped off at her home that day, “WM” was at a usual level of activity, and that he “he was playing on the floor with some toys and seemed fine…” The day started off like any other, then ended in tragedy.
Grimm was the only adult in the home the day “WM” suffered a near fatal brain injury. At the time, Grimm was caring for 5 five other children – four of her children who were being home-schooled, and another daycare child.
“WM” was dropped off at 7:15 am; Grimm said she cuddled with “WM” and then laid him down in a pack n’ play. Grimm then went upstairs, and left “WM” alone, in the basement, to nap. At 8:47 am, Grimm heard “WM” crying and went to change his diaper, and brought him upstairs where he ate some cereal. After breakfast, Grimm brought “WM” back to the pack n’ play, and left him alone in the basement again so she could home-school her 4 children in the upstairs level of the home. In her statement to police, Grimm did not recall how long “WM” slept.
When “WM” woke again, Grimm went to change his diaper and noticed “WM” was stiff and unconscious. Grimm tried to rouse “WM” but he would not respond. Grimm then called Jessica Merchant who instructed her to call 911. The 911 call was made at 12:51 pm, an ambulance arrived soon after. When medics arrived, they found Grimm holding “WM” – who had a pulse but was breathing very shallow and was unresponsive. Medics noted that one of “WM”’s pupils was extremely dilated, and the other was not, a sign of head trauma. At the hospital, “WM” was diagnosed with a massive subdural hematoma (a build up of blood between the layers of tissue that cover the brain, a sign of severe trauma) and required emergency surgery.
Physicians treating “WM” stated that he would have become unresponsive immediately after or shortly after the head trauma occurred. The physicians also testified that type of trauma “WM” suffered is beyond what a toddler would experience if they had a normal fall or bump to the head, and the severity of the injury is consistent with being violently shaken or thrown. Meaning the greater force applied to the head, the more severe the damage to the brain and functioning will be. A severely injured infant would not be able to regulate any behavior requiring higher cortical functions, such as eating, sitting, playing, laughing, or walking – which is how “WM” now presents.
“WM” was diagnosed as suffering from abusive head trauma. He required surgery to remove a part of his skull in order to alleviate the swelling around the brain and spent months in the hospital. Medical experts testified that the injury inflicted on “WM” is consistent with “a violent acceleration-deceleration event, such as a high-speed motor vehicle collision or being severely shaken or thrown..”
An online comment says this about the case: “..Her (Grimm) story has changed repeatedly — her timeline is both inconsistent and incoherent and isn’t supported by the physical evidence.
Her daughter testified that the boy woke up crying while Mariel was in the shower, her daughter got her mother out of the shower who was angry about it, then Mariel was heard yelling at the boy to shut up. He then went entirely silent.
The boy suffered permanent and severely debilitating brain damage. To the extent that he is expected to remain a toddler in his capabilities for the rest of his life (though he is hoped to exceed those expectations). The damage was described, by one of the premier pediatric neurosurgical and neurological teams in the entire United States, as one of the worst cases of TBI that they’ve ever seen…”Comment VO
Grimm noted in an online post that attorneys were “happy” that Judge Knutson was appointed to her case, and they had good reason to be considering the favorable outcome she would receive. Grimm was convicted in July 2017 by a jury of 1stdegree felony assault; sentencing occurred in September 2017.
“WM”, an adorable little boy with eyes that smile, chubby cheeks and golden blond hair, suffered from permanent brain damage and will never fully recover from injuries. The rest of his childhood will include continued medical treatment, and uncertainty. The Merchants said during their victim impact statement that “WM” cannot walk, requires a feeding tube, and suffers from seizures and intractable pain.
Mother, Jessica Merchant, said,” It is impossible to convey the tragedy and depth of devastation and sorrow as we watched our son fight for his life for days and weeks…
His life has been forever altered. Instead of wondering where he’ll go to college, or if he’ll be an engineer like his daddy, or a teacher like his mama, or an astronaut or a writer or an athlete, we have to wonder if he’ll even be able to have a job … to participate in school … to live on his own.”
Many in the courtroom cried after listening to the heart-wrenching victim impact statement. The Merchants asked Grimm be given the harshest sentence possible.
Despite the severity of “W.M’s” injuries, Judge Knutson showed sympathy – not to the “W.M.” or to the Merchant family but to the woman convicted of shaking the child, Mariel Grimm. Knutson praised Grimm for “cooperating” with the prosecutor’s office and her attitude in court; to which Judge Knutson bizarrely notes,”She has expressed ongoing love and support for the victim..” An “expression of love” does NOT involve violently shaking or throwing a toddler, causing his brain to hemorrhage!
Judge Knutson said he was also touched by the letters of support for Grimm but ignored the victim impact statement of the child’s parents, and the reaction of the public to it.
Prosecutor Heather Pipenhagen said, “All of Ms. Grimm’s good qualities … do not mitigate what she did on September 22, 2016 to this child..Make no mistake, she took his life. He’s alive, but Ms. Grimm took his life.”
Grimm was facing up to 8 years in prison but in an act of misplaced mercy, Judge Knutson stayed the sentence so that Grimm will avoid prison. Instead, Grimm will spend up to 90 days in county jail but could be released in as little as 60 days. Grimm could also be released from jail to attend counseling appointments, and to home-school her 4 children. In addition, Grimm has been sentenced to 60 days of electronic home monitoring, 200 hours of community service and 15 years of probation. Grimm has an open case with CPS, her children were not removed from her home, but she has been required to be supervised when with them. As part of the conditions for probation Grimm is required to follow all directions of CPS. Grimm says she is innocent, that “WM” came to her home with injury, and plans to appeal.
A Fundraiser has been set up to help the Merchant family pay “W.M.’s” medical bills: Help with Medical Bills
Read More About the Merchant Case:
#2 – Dennis Roy Case (May 2013) : Stayed Sentence for Child Rapist, Victim Imprisoned By Ongoing Trauma, Flashbacks
Dennis Michael Roy, pleaded guilty to felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct after raping and repeatedly assaulting a 5-year old girl, a relative, from Eagan (Case No. 19HA-CR-12-495).
Roy faced a maximum of 30 years in prison and $40,000 in fines…but instead he walked free. Roy appeared before Judge David L. Knutson, who handed down his sentence on March 22, 2013. Judge Knutson sentenced Roy to a 16-year stayed prison term and 20 years of probation.
In September 2014, Roy was found guilty of a probation violation for loitering in public with an open bottle of alcohol. He served 45 days in jail.Roy has 18 prior convictions, including second-degree burglary, multiple motor-vehicle thefts, multiple DUIs, trespassing, disorderly conduct and multiple domestic assaults.
The child involved continues to struggle with the assault, and suffers severely from the effects of trauma with flashbacks, anxiety and depression.
Read More on the Roy Case:
Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Divorce/Custody Case: Abuser Given Sole Custody of Children He Victimized, Lifetime Ban From Children Against Protective Mother
Judge Knutson is the family court judge who presided over the Grazzini-Rucki divorce and custody trial after it was illegally re-opened. Judge Knutson also demanded that ALL legal matters concerning the Grazzini-Rucki family be placed under his jurisdiction alone, and no other. By “coincidence” all the judges appointed to Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s other legal matters (appellate, child support, criminal) share a connection to Judge Knutson, and all have issued extremely harsh rulings against her – even violating the law to do so.
In September 2012, Judge Knutson court ordered the removal of mother and primary caregiver, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, from the home, causing all five children to run away after hearing the news. Judge Knutson instilled paternal aunt, Tammy Jo Love, a temporary guardian. Love had previously lost custody of her children due to drug use. The Rucki children feared Love, and say she mistreated them (one of the children told police after running away that Love hit her). Judge Knutson’s irrational decision came after allegations of sexual abuse involving two of the children were raised, which he was fully aware of. The Rucki children were apprehended and put into the care of a maternal aunt while Judge Knutson continued to work to give abuser, David Rucki, custody of the children who were so desperate to escape his abuse.
Instead of protecting the five Rucki children, Judge Knutson sought to isolate the children so they would have no avenue for help. Judge Knutson worked to give the abusive father complete control over the children – directly putting them in harm’s way. For the Rucki children, their childhood died the day their loving and protective mother was removed from their home, and their life, their existence would become a nightmare involving continued legal chaos and abuse; that would be impossible to escape, even as adults.
The traumatized Rucki children were then court ordered into reunification with identified abuser, father David Rucki. Some of the visits were facilitated in the Dakota County Judicial Center, where Judge Knutson used the court bailiffs to guard the doors so the children could not escape. Witnesses reported hearing the anguished cries of the children from behind closed doors during “reunification”. In another incident, the youngest child was heard screaming like a wounded animal, held captive by a therapist bent on “deprogramming”. The older siblings made efforts to help but were prevented and eventually separated from the younger siblings so they would be easier to control. Judge Knutson’s failure to protect the five Rucki children from the physical, mental and sexual abuse perpetrated by their father, David Rucki, has directly lead to these children being further abused, and now held captive by a custody ruling that has sentenced them to a life of torture.
Judge Knutson’s failure to consider the safety of the Rucki children created a crisis in which two of the eldest Rucki sisters ran away again on April 19, 2013, again citing fear for their safety when Judge Knutson attempted to place them again into the care of Tammy Jo Love.
While the eldest sisters were still missing, Judge Knutson ordered a custody trial, to be held on September 11-12, 2013 (note: the custody trial was held in the same courtroom as the Mariel Grimm criminal trial). During trial, Judge Knutson ordered Sandra’s attorney to proceed with while handcuffed and strapped to a wheelchair, without her client present, and no files, and not even her shoes or glasses. The custody trial was rife with due process violations, Constitutional violations, and legal error – in effect was a rigged trial masterminded by Judge Knutson. Under circumstances of great injustice, in November 2013, David Rucki was granted sole custody of all 5 children. At the time of the court order, Rucki was on probation for violating a protective order issued against him, after his continued abuse of Sandra. Judge Knutson later slapped a lifetime ban against loving and protective mother, Sandra – prohibiting her from any physical, verbal, or written contact with her children. Sandra has not seen or heard from her children in over 5 years, and grieves their loss every day, in every breath, she takes.
The two oldest Rucki sisters remained in hiding, living on a therapeutic horse ranch, and refusing to return to their father, David Rucki, stating he abused them. Witnesses say both girls exhibited emotional and physical symptoms consistent with abuse. On the ranch the sisters were well cared for, and nurtured, and began to not only heal but thrive in their new environment, which they considered home. Tragically in November 2015, after 2 years the sisters were discovered, and despite their pleas for help, and the recommendation of a social worker to keep them in foster care for their safety, Judge Michael Mayer (a close friend of Judge Knutson) returned the sisters back into the custody of David Rucki. To attest to his violent nature, Rucki was on probation for a violent road rage incident at the time the girls were put into his care.
Sandra was later convicted of 6 counts of felony deprivation for her efforts to assist her daughters, who ran away from abuse. She has filed an appeal, and has not stopped fighting for justice, and to keep her children safe from abuse.
The Grazzini-Rucki case is yet another example of Judge Knutson showing preference to a dangerous abuser, and purposefully ignoring the safety concerns and well-being of a vulnerable child. Yet again, the abuser is given protective status while the child is placed in harm’s way, with the assistance of Judge Knutson.
Against all logic, Judge Knutson has shown sympathy to dangerous child predators and abusers. Criminals go free when jail is warranted, and vulnerable children are denied the justice and protection they deserve.
Is Minnesota safe with Judge Knutson on the bench?
“And for anyone who would dare press the complaints and issues beyond the initial “status quo guardians”, demonization, discrediting and economic retaliation are used to neutralize these voices of discontent and dissent…” ~ Don Mashak~ Political Google Site
Breaking News… Corrupt in Dakota County, Judge David L. Knutson retaliates against blogger and co-defendant in the Grazzini-Rucki case, Dede Evavold.
Judge Knutson issued a probation violation summons the very same day Evavold published an article Secrecy Is The Freedom Tyrants Dream Of criticizing the lack of transparency, and accountability in the judicial system.
The article mentioned Judge Knutson as an example, and included copies of a complaint previously raised against him. The article also suggested that Judge Knutson be removed from the bench or impeached.
Judge David Knutson — who has played role both in the Grazzini-Rucki criminal trial and the divorce of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki — issued a probation violation summons against Evavold for publishing articles on a blog called “Red Herring Alert”. The violation stems from a court order prohibiting Evavold to mention the name of the Grazzini-Rucki family in social media for the length of her probation, an estimated 8 years!
Red Herring Alert is a blog that includes contributions from many authors, and there is no evidence that Evavold actually created or published the content in question.
Dede Evavold is not a criminal – she is a wife and a mother, who as a hobby, enjoys writing about current events and political news.
Evavold’s life was turned upside down after being convicted of 6 felonies, and sentenced by Judge Karen Asphaug (November 10, 2016) for felony parental deprivation for her role in assisting two teens S.R. and G.R. who were desperate to escape an abusive father (and paternal aunt) and feared for their lives after the courts and police failed to protect them. S.R. and G.R. openly stated they would run away with or without help and remained in hiding for over 2 years. When given opportunities to return to the care of their father, David Rucki, both girls refused, due to safety concerns. Witnesses say the behavior and emotional state of both S.R. and G.R. is consistent with abuse: Multiple Witness Reports: Rucki Sisters Fearful of Father, Felt Safe at Ranch
Judge Knutson ignored their cries for help of all five Rucki children and court ordered them into reunification therapy, and then the sole custody of, the identified abuser, father, David Rucki. At the time of the custody order, Rucki was on probation for a violation of a protective order, stemming from an incident involving ex-wife, Sandra. Sandra says she is being stalked, harassed and threatened by Rucki.
Judge Knutson made his ruling despite overwhelming evidence of Rucki’s propensity towards violence, and evidence supporting abuse of the children had occurred. For example, during a “telephonic conference” held on September 7, 2012, Judge Knutson admitted that he was aware of allegations of sexual abuse involving the girls. Instead of protecting the children, Judge Knutson ordered their mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, from the home and worked to reunite the children with their abusive father. Just a few months later, the Rucki children personally met with Judge Knutson in chambers, and disclosed allegations of abuse. Immediately after disclosure, Judge Knutson ordered the Rucki children into visiting Rucki and placed a bailiff at the door to prevent their escape. Judge Knutson then ordered that the conference with the children be sealed, in an apparent cover up.
Judge Knutson is involved in every aspect of the Grazzini-Rucki case, and acts outside the law in such an extreme way that it could be said that he is David Rucki’s hired thug. Judge Knutson was involved in criminal cases against David Rucki, giving preferential treatment. Judge Knutson was involved in both the the divorce and criminal trial. Judge Knutson assigned himself to Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s criminal case and gave her a million dollar bail in Novmber, 2015. Judge Knutson is also connected to all of the judges appointed to every level of this case – including a connection to Judge Karen Asphaug, who is now presiding over the criminal trials of both Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and Dede Evavold.
Dede Evavold has a constitutionally protected right to express her views, and should not be punished for the exercise of her 1st Amendment right to free speech. That Judge Knutson would take these actions against her, and be allowed to do so, shows just how corrupt the courts, and judicial system, in Dakota County really are.
Beyond that, the public and people of Minnesota should also be expressing concern about the lawless and dangerous actions of Judge Knutson; who has court ordered five children into the care and custody of a dangerous abuser and destroyed the mother who sought to protect them.
That Dede Evavold is speaking out, despite enormous pressure against her to remain silent, and threats of jail, is courageous. To remain silent on this issue would mean complicity in the abuse of the Rucki children, and enable the destruction of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, a loving, mother, who is being persecuted for her efforts to keep her children safe from harm after the family court system failed to protect them.
Hear more from Dede in her interview on Village Connection Radio: DEDE EVAVOLD, PAYING FOR BEING AN ACTIVIST FOR CHANGE
Read More About Judge David Knutson:
F.A.C.E.U.S. Robin Lulu Marci Friedman Michael Volpe… and surprise guest Sandra Grazzini-Rucki
Listen Here: The Grazzini-Rucki Story As You’ve Never Heard it Beforeichael-volpe-conservator-or-liberal-news
More information on the Grazzini-Rucki case:
1) The definitive dossier documenting David Rucki’s violence: 99 pages of police reports, orders for protection, letters, affidavits, and more…
“If you even possibly imagine how bad being locked down for 23 hours a day in a cell with a woman who just killed somebody could be, transport was a thousand times worse...” Sandra Grazzini-RuckiA recent interview of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki on F.A.C.E. U.S. describes her torturous journey on prison transport that involved nearly a month of being shackled hand to foot, and placed in a dog cage, as she was driven in a jagged route from Florida to Minnesota from October-November 2015 after a sealed warrant was issued for her arrest. At the time of transport, Sandra had no prior criminal history, and was not convicted of any crime.
“Diesel Therapy” – The Dangerous Route of Prison Transport
Prison transport is often referred to as “diesel therapy”, nicknamed for the exhaust fumes that permeate transport vans. Diesel therapy is notorious for its extreme and degrading treatment of prisoners where neglect as well as physical and mental abuse is common. Trips can last weeks and months at a time; in which prisoners are held at the mercy of their captors.
In the United States, tens of thousands of suspects and fugitives, many who have not been convicted of a crime (like Sandra at the time of this transport) are transferred from jails and prisons into the care of private companies that handle transport, and operate with almost no oversight or accountability. Transport companies are usually paid per mile, and guards are generally paid only for their time on the road, so they have an incentive to pack vans tightly and take as little breaks as possible. Numerous investigations into the prison transport industry have revealed rampant abuse and neglect of prisoners, and in some cases prisoners actually die from the inhumane conditions, abuse or vehicle crashes/accidents.
On prison transport trips, violent and repeat felons are often transported alongside suspects (and may be chained together). Even something as simple as a child support warrant could land you into diesel therapy, shackled next to a child predator or drug lord. The lack of security on prison transport is also a concern – in some cases prisoners have escaped from transport, or have attacked guards or other prisoners. Sexual assault of female prisoners is also routinely reported on transport – with perpetrators identified as guards, drivers or even other male prisoners. Once inside the prison system, there is little or no recourse for prisoners to file grievances, and they risk retaliation for raising concerns.
At an emotional moment in the show, Sandra’s distress can audibly be heard as she struggles to put into words the abuse she suffered in jail and transport, “About after about 6 days of what was going on.. I don’t know if people really want to know what goes on, because you don’t know what goes on in jails, but people know that people that aren’t really that type of people and they take full advantage of it..and if they feel they got somebody in there that may be proper they will do whatever they can to make it worse for them… And that’s what they did to me. They took advantage of the fact that … whatever..” Sandra is not able to talk further… perhaps she is afraid to say anymore.
From American Mom to Fighting for Survival
How Sandra went from former beauty queen and mother to being criminally charged for her efforts to protect her children from abuse is a journey that has transported her from “a basic American mom” to a woman who is now fighting for her survival.
In her former life Sandra lived in Lakeville, a rural suburb in Minnesota, where she was a stay-at-home mother of 5 children. She also worked as a flight attendant. Sandra is a former beauty queen who is known not just for being attractive but having a beautiful heart as well. She actively volunteered in her community, opened her doors to the neighborhood children to stop by and devoted her life to the care of her 5 children. Sandra has said it was her dream to be a wife and mother, and that“my children were my world”. However, she did not anticipate that her husband would be an abusive monster with a lengthy criminal history, who would also physically and mentally abuse the children she so loves.
So how did Sandra become destitute, homeless, and now, a 6 time felon who is permanently banned from seeing her children for the rest of their lives? The answer will shock you: she sought a divorce. David Rucki, ex-husband, is a wealthy, well-connected abuser, who has continued to batter Sandra through the family court and legal system. The Grazzini-Rucki family court and criminal case has been overwhelmed with corruption, abuse of judicial power and laws that are routinely broken…the victims in this are the 5 Rucki children who continued to be trapped in an abusive home, and Sandra, whose life remains endangered by the court system that should have protected her and the children.
Sealed Warrant Used to Ambush Sandra Grazzini-Rucki
Now, shocking new details emerge about the initial arrest of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and the inhumane treatment she received during transport.
Some background needed to understand this story – A nationwide warrant for Sandra’s arrest was submitted by Dakota County Prosecuting Attorney Kathryn M. Keena and not only approved but put under a seal on August 12, 2015. Sandra was charged with 3 counts of felony deprivation of parental rights, a seal means the warrant was kept secret. The seal was to last until Sandra is arrested, and returned to Minnesota. A sealed warrant also means that Sandra was not notified that a warrant was issued against her – and given absolutely no chance to voluntarily turn herself in.
Despite the seal, information regarding the warrant was leaked to a local reporter from an unknown source. Whoever leaked the warrant committed an illegal act, though the reporter did nothing illegal by receiving or publishing the information.Sandra was not living in Minnesota at the time of the warrant, and is not aware of the news reports. Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie claims the leak was just a “glitch”. Dakota County’s mishanding of Sandra’s arrest warrant is NOT just a “glitch” – it is a serious error that has violated Sandra’s due process rights and resulted in egregious harm being inflicted upon her.
Since the warrant was leaked into the press, there was no legitimate reason for it to remain sealed. But that is not what happened in Dakota County – after the warrant is leaked, it is then re-sealed, making it impossible for Sandra, or her attorney, to be notified of its existence. Providing Sandra with a notice to appear in court would have been appropriate in this case, and easier than what happened next. Instead, Dakota County relentlessly pursued Sandra.
Sandra was apprehended by U.S. Marshalls, in Florida on October 18, 2015. She was temporarily held in jail then transported across the country to be brought back to Minnesota to answer to criminal charges. The story continues… Pt. II Diesel Therapy: Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s Torturous Journey on Prison Transport
Continued from Part 1: Diesel Therapy: Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s Torturous Journey on Prison Transport
U.S. Marshal Mayhem
At 66 minutes into The Grazzini-Rucki Story as You’ve Never Heard Before Sandra bravely shares what happened when she was apprehended by U.S. Marshals, her time in jail, and the horror of prison transport.
On October 18, 2015, Sandra was working as a flight attendant, and during her layover sharing a hotel room with a co-worker (which normal for that profession). Sandra went to bed as usual but later was startled awake by voices shouting her name. She opened her eyes to see four men with shotguns pointed at her face, wearing full swat gear with goggles over their eyes. Sandra was grabbed by the arm and yanked to the ground. She was then handcuffed and walked into the next room where she saw her co-worker, also in handcuffs.
The co-worker was sleeping on a couch in another room when, without warning, U.S. Marshals kicked the door in and threw the co-worker to ground. Guns were drawn against his head and he was handcuffed behind his back. The co-worker has never been charged with a crime, he was only subjected to this terrifying treatment because he was in the same unit as Sandra at the time of capture.
U.S. Marshals tore the hotel room apart, asking “Where are the guns?” “Where are the kids?” Sandra was shocked to learn that she was charged with gun running, kidnapping and human trafficking. Keep in mind, news of the “sealed” arrest warrant had been reported in one of the largest newspapers in Minnesota two months prior – and according to their report Sandra was only being charged with felony deprivation of parental rights. The U.S. Marshals were acting on false information, even though the entire State of Minnesota had been notified of the real charges through the press: Mother sought in case of two missing Lakeville girls
After weeks of surveillance, and use of extensive manpower on the tax payer’s dime, the U.S. Marshals turned up two flight bags and two flight attendant uniforms in their exhaustive investigation that somehow was not able to detect the phony charges. All of Sandra’s belongings were confiscated and have never been returned. Dave Oney has a lot of explaining to do about the Marshal’s mishandling of the Grazzini-Rucki case, yet remains purposefully evasive.
The U.S. Marshals is the oldest law enforcement agency in the Department of Justice and supposed to be the most experienced, and yet they have been bamboozled by the officials of Dakota County, which is nothing more than a blip in the middle of the Minnesota cornfields. How does a podunk Prosecutor’s office con the U.S. Marshals into believing a stay-at-home mom and flight attendant of 30+ years with an impeccable service record is a violent criminal? The role of the Marshal’s in the Grazzini-Rucki case should be investigated, continued silence and cover up erodes public trust in the program, and hints an even bigger problem may exist.
Once the U.S. Marshals detain a suspect the next step is to take them into federal custody – but that never happened. Sandra was told by Marshals that “this never happened before” and “there was a misunderstanding” regarding the serious, felony level charges leveled against her. Misunderstanding? How is that possible – the reporters at the local press knew what the charges were, and have rigorously defended their story – and yet the U.S. Marshals can’t get their story straight! Dakota County refused to sign Sandra into federal custody and instead asked the Marshals to handle the case as “just a local issue”. Sandra was booked into a county jail based on the sealed warrant. Btw Dave Oney claims the Marshals went to these lengths because Sandra was a fugitive. But the warrant was sealed so it is impossible for her to be a fugitive – how can you flee from something that you do not know exists?
Shackled, Shoved Into a Dog Cage
Sandra was booked into jail in Osceola County, Florida, based on the warrant from Dakota County/Prosecutor Keena. Despite the “misunderstanding”, Sandra was still being held as a federal fugitive and placed on the maximum level of security. This meant that Sandra was placed into a cell block reserved for the most serious offenders, and roomed into a prison cell with a women who murdered a man during a robbery by shooting him the face with a shotgun. Sandra says about the cell block she was placed into that it was “like Charlie Manson on steroids”.
The cellmate was surprised to see Sandra enter, stating she is at the high level of security, as a convicted murdered, and says she does not get roommates because of her crime. Sandra recalls being questioned by the cellmate as to why she was there. Michael Volpe comments that the authorities refused to fix the error because they probably wanted Sandra in maximum security, with a dangerous cellmate.
If Sandra thought her situation was dire, things were about to get worse as she was given a strong dose of “diesel therapy”.
At 76 minutes into the show Sandra’s voice begins to tremble as she recalls the moment she was dragged out of the cell in the middle of the night, and her ordeal on prison transport began. Luckily for her, the prisoners warned Sandra to put multiple pads in her pants (prisoners are rarely given bathroom breaks). Sandra was also warned that she would be deprived of food and water. From behind bars, Sandra looked North toward the freedom star, her view was obstructed by cinder block walls and darkness. Even in her worst nightmares, she could not imagine the journey ahead.
Prison transport vans are outfitted with interior bars or cages; the rear cargo area where the prisoners are held usually has no windows and relies on ventilation from an inadequate cooling system with few vents and unpredictable service. Transport vans do not have toilets or beds. Medical services are not provided, and prisoners are commonly deprived of medications. Food is in limited supply and water, rationed. There is no contact with the outside world – no way to reach family, friends or even your attorney. Prisoners disappear on a long, lonely road that intersects on American highways yet goes entirely unnoticed.
When Sandra describes how she was handcuffed, she could be describing a medieval torture device. Sandra’s wrists were first handcuffed. Sandra’s feet were then shackled. On long transport trips, handcuffs often cut into the skin, causing circulation problems. Long trips with rough metal cuffs rubbing against the skin cause chafing or sores. And if that was not enough – like Sandra is the Incredible Hulk who could rip out of chains at any time?!? – her hands are then secured to her feet with another chain. Sandra says she was forced to assume a “squatted down position”. Imagine being forced to remain in that position for 12-16 hours a day, unable to stretch or move.. sleep is nearly impossible. That is what Sandra endured.
But shackles and chains for this petite, former beauty queen whose booking records note she is all of 112 pounds and stands all of 5 feet tall is not enough.. because Sandra was then placed into what she calls a “dog cage”. All of this because she fought to protect her children from abuse against a family court system that ignored their cries for help and put the children in harm’s way. Some may call Sandra a criminal but it is clear that only a mother who truly loves her children would make such great sacrifices for their well-being, even risking her life for them.
Sandra says about prison transport, “I don’t know how many states we hit”.The van criss-crossed across the country – “from Florida up to Georgia down to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, over to Dallas , Oklahoma back to Kansas, Missouri, back up to.. I hit so many states…” When the van stopped at a jail, Sandra was booked, meaning her mugshot was taken and she was temporarily assigned a cell. A trail of mugshots exists to document this horrific trip. Once Sandra’s beautiful face graced glamour shots and public events, the toll the transport has taken on her can be seen in her tired eyes and pale complexion, she is barely hanging on.
Almost the entire trip, Sandra remained shackled and shoved into a dog cage. David Rucki’s own dogs were given better treatment that Sandra… his use of the legal system to pummel his ex-wife is more effective at inflicting damage than the bruises he used to leave on her. And if the legal system were not enough of a threat, Sandra was placed on transport with the “worst of the worst” – rapists, murdered, lifelong criminals, whose last breath of fresh air would be experienced on the shuffled walk between the transport van and the big house.
Prison transports are known for lengthy trips, where prisoners may spend sometimes up to 12-16 hours per day on the road, in confines. Sandra pleaded with the guards to be let out of the dog cage. She could barely move so she used her voice to reach beyond the cage. Sandra pleaded with the guards to look her name up on the internet, to visit websites (the same sites David Rucki is trying to shut down!) and research her story. Sandra hoped that if the guards knew about her story they would know that she is not dangerous criminal, not convicted of any crime, and perhaps would relent. The drivers did look Sandra up. And after reading more about Sandra they said “something is not right here” and “they lightened up on me a bit – a bit”.
Fears for the Future
It took almost 3 weeks for Sandra to arrive back to Minnesota on the prison transport from Florida. What kept her strong in the darkest of times is memories of her children, and the love she has for them.
In June 2017, the Justice Department launched an investigation into the nation’s largest prison transport company, Prisoner Transportation Services due to allegations of prisoner abuse. According to Business Insider,”Since 2012, at least five inmates have died on PTS vans from alleged medical neglect. Since 2000, another two dozen people have been killed or seriously injured in more than 50 crashes on private extradition vehicles nationwide. “ Justice Department probes alleged abuses on prison transport vans
The threat that Dakota County will issue another warrant hangs over Sandra’s head, like a noose, every day. Laws have been routinely broken in the Grazzini-Rucki case and there would be no way for Sandra to protect herself. In the darkest of and held in a jail until the gates of hell to a prison van open, and she is subjected to another degrading transport… a journey she may not survive.
Sandra has vocally expressed in interviews, that she will continue to fight for justice until her children are safe, for them she would risk her life.
Prison Transport Sources: