Minnesota Exposed: “Tough on Crime” but Silent on Abuse (Grazzini-Rucki Case Update)

I’m the toughest on crime that ever lived, I make Elliott Ness look like nothing.  I think for some reason the authoritiehave dropped the ball on this case.” – per Ron Rosenbaum (Holding Court Podcast Thu, 22 October 2015) claims he is paraphrasing James Backstrom.

County Attorney James C. Backstrom

The Lakeville police have mishandled the investigation of the missing Rucki sisters – worked to cover up child abuse, and tainted the investigation with bias and misinformation. Innocent children are being punished for the actions of an abuser, and those who are charged with protecting them have failed to keep them safe.

 Ongoing Child Abuse Cover Up 

From the beginning, the Lakeville Police have failed to protect those victimized by David Rucki – Sandra and the children, the neighbors, and the public. Had the Lakeville Police properly intervened, the escalating behavior could have been prevented, and the children could have been spared the abuse they have suffered (and continue to suffer.)

 

Miles

Laura Miles GAL Coordinator

The Lakeville police are aware of multiple abuse allegations concerning the Rucki sisters made before their disappearance. NONE of these allegations were ever investigated by the police. The sisters had also attempted to run away in Sept. 2012, again because they did not feel safe.

The Rucki sisters also reported  abuse to numerous professionals, doctors, therapists, friends – and each time the family court professionals, under the jurisdiction of Judge Knutson, ignored or dismissed their cries for help. Even after being “recovered”, the Rucki sisters again stated to anyone who would listen, that they were afraid of their father, David Rucki, that he had abused them, and that they would run away if returned to his care. Instead of listening to their cries for help, the police and court system have chosen to listen to the abuser.

Judge David Knutson

Judge David Knutson

 

Dr. Paul Reitman, Clinical Psychologist

JFX

Julie Friedrich, GAL

 Rogue Drone – Detective Jim Dronnen Erases Report of OFP Violation

Image from sunthisweek.com

Image from sunthisweek.com

Det. Jim Dronen should have never been assigned to this case because of his past involvement with David Rucki.

In 2011, Det. Dronnen handled a case where Rucki was charged with an OFP violation. Dronnen had the charge not only dismissed but wiped completely off MNCIS.

Lakeville Appoints Det. Dronen to “Most Bizarre” Case

Det. Jim Dronnen began working on the case in 2014, and bragged that “the Rucki case was virtually the only one he worked on”. How is this possible? What about the violent crimes, unsolved cases and other threats to public safety? How can the Lakeville police direct one investigator to this case – and yet also fail to issue an Amber Alert or fail to do a local search for the missing sisters?

The Lakeville police also failed to contact Trish Van Pilsum, who interviewed the the girls for a story after they had run away. There was a crucial period of time to gather information that was totally ignored. Yet, at a later date, the Lakeville police had multiple conversations with Brandon Stahl and Michael Brodkorb of the Star Tribune…after the girls were missing for almost 2 years! What is the difference? The Star Tribune had aligned with the Lakeville police in covering up abuse, while Van Pilsum was exposing it.

The Lakeville police had mishandled previous reports of abuse made in connection to David Rucki, and needed to keep the allegations silent to avoid responsibility for their role in the escalating conflicts. In order for this cover-up to be successful, one party must be targeted a scapegoat. 

Just A “Very Sad Case…(of a) Nasty Divorce” or a High Profile Case for Lakeville?

Instead of correctly naming, and investigating the abuse, the Lakeville police have begun a disinfo campaign to say this case is really just a “high conflict” divorce issue.

Lakeville Police Chief Jeff Long says this case “is one of the most ‘bizarre’ cases he has seen throughout his 29-year career..” Keep in mind that Chief Long has investigated murder, rape and other serious crimes.. and yet we are to believe this is “the most bizarre”? 

The Lakeville police ignored the history of abuse, ignored documentation of abuse , and ignored the reason the Rucki sisters ran away. They stated they did not want to live in the care of paternal aunt Tammy Love, which is in itself may be an indicator of abuse. 

If the sisters did not run away due to abuse, what led up to this? According to Detective Dronnen,of the Lakeville Police Dept. “This is a very sad case that just shows how nasty divorce can be…When you have people that are just working so hard to win, it can just make things really, really nasty and there’s really no winners.” 

The police listened with a sympathetic ear to David complain about suing Sandra for the money in her family trust. What does that have to do with the missing Rucki sisters?

4bebc-brodkorb_rucki_love_elliot_donehower_19av-fa-11-1273_012616

 

 

 

Millionaire David Rucki then used money from the Wetterling Foundation to pay for all expenses for the Rucki sisters to be shipped, with a retired security officer so they would not run away again, on a plane to California for “intense therapy lasting 6-8 hours a day” to “de-program” the girls in a treatment facility, transcripts state, which was used by the Feds on numerous occasions.

David confided to an officer that “the MN Attorney General’s Office was conducting an investigation which involved the two missing girls in this case.”  According to David Rucki, the Attorney General’s Office is now involved in a missing persons case? 

The Lakeville police also utilized the resources of the BCA to collect DNA samples on the sisters as well as dental records. 

Why all of this effort? I would argue that Lakeville’s interest in this case was not so much in finding the Rucki sisters, but had to do more with this being a high-profile case that would increase the prestige of the police department. 

 A Pat on the Back for the Good ‘Ole Boys

IN 2015, Det. Dronnen was named officer of the year. And Det. Dronnen recently received a Medal of Commendation related to his work on the Rucki case (May 2016) . Mayor Matt Little personally praised him, saying, “If you continue to receive all that pressure, we’ve got your back and we’ll support you for the whole way.” Det. Dronnen is given one of the highest awards for law enforcement service, usually reserved for those who risk their lives in the line of duty, for one case that was supplemented with help from the Star Tribune?

If this is not a Red Herring Alert, I don’t know what one is! Stay tuned for updates on the Grazzini-Rucki case… 

Additional Sources:

Charges Filed Following Discovery of Missing Rucki Sisters

The Provocateur: David Rucki’s Greatest Hits (Michael Volpe)

Did 20/20 manipulate the Rucki story to hide abuse? (Michael Volpe)

(2011) Judge Knutson Orders Reunification Therapy with David Rucki and Children, while HRO in place

Lakeville detective receives medal of commendation

RĒ TALLY Ā SHEE ŌNN? (Det Dronnen)

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GAL Coordinator Laura Miles – Going the Extra Mile for Fatherhood Organization

The need for justice grows out of the conflict of human interests...” ~ Thomas Nixon Carver

Can a family court Guardian ad Litem (GAL)  advocate for the best interest of a child, while also advocating, and promoting, their own special interests? One Guardian ad Litem Coordinator’s work with a fatherhood organization provides yet another example of the need for increased accountability, and oversight, in Minnesota’s troubled GAL program. 

Laura Miles, Guardian ad Litem Coordinator for Dakota and Goodhue counties, served as a board member in a well-known fatherhood organization in 2014 and 2015 (board terms for this organization last a period of 3 years). The stated mission of this fatherhood org is to “change the way government agencies interact with fathers and children”. That the GAL program is a government agency raises serious questions about Miles involvement, especially since her work involves supervising and training other Guardians, who may become indoctrinated if Miles has any bias.

Laura Miles. GAL Program Coordinator

Laura Miles. GAL Program Coordinator

The way Miles’ job title and name is listed in the fatherhood org’s Board of Directors gives the appearance of impropriety. The listing includes Miles’ name, her job title as GAL Coordinator (she is a state employee) her address in a state office building, and her work phone, also provided by the state.

I could not find a publicly posted policy relating to the GAL use of state property but there is a statute for the code of ethics for employees in the executive branch that is widely utilized by State employees. Stat. 43A.38, Subd. 4.Use of state property: (a) “An employee shall not use or allow the use of state time, supplies or state-owned or leased property and equipment for the employee’s private interests or any other use not in the interest of the state, except as provided by law.”

See GAL Coordinator Laura Mile’s name, and contact information included on the list for a Board of Directors for a fatherhood organization here: 

2014 MFFN Board List

 2015 MFFN Board List

Public Domain: clker.com

In another listing, advertising a conference, Laura Miles names is listed under the title “Statewide Representation and Support for Fathers”, again the listing includes Miles title as GAL Coordinator and includes her contact information from her state office. Miles name is also listed on the Form 990 as being part of the Board of Directors.

According to the organization, Board members must be “passionate about advancing the fatherhood field” Those who are interested in serving on the Board must “self nominate” and send a letter of interest, How can Miles remain neutral, and objective, in her position as GAL Coordinator while also be actively seeking a role to be involved, and promote the fatherhood agenda – or any agenda, for that matter? 

This is clearly a conflict of interest.

I could not find a publicly posted conflict of interest statement for the GAL program but the code of ethics for employees in the executive branch offers some direction. Subd. 5.Conflicts of interest, “The following actions by an employee in the executive branch shall be deemed a conflict of interest and subject to procedures regarding resolution of the conflicts, section 434A.39 or disciplinary action as appropriate…2) acceptance of other employment or contractual relationship that will affect the employee’s independence of judgment in the exercise of official duties…

Subd. 6.Determination of conflicts of interest, “When an employee believes the potential for a conflict of interest exists, it is the employee’s duty to avoid the situation. A conflict of interest shall be deemed to exist when a review of the situation by the employee, the appointing authority or the commissioner determines any one of the following conditions to be present: (1) the use for private gain or advantage of state time, facilities, equipment or supplies or badge, uniform, prestige or influence of state office or employment…”

A conflict of interest occurs when professional judgment is influenced by a secondary interest. For a GAL, their job, and priority, is to protect the interests and well-being of the child. A GAL is supposed to be neutral, and unbiased; Miles involvement with the fatherhood org suggests favoritism, and bias.  Her role may also lead to forming alliances that could deter the outcome of justice if cronyism were to occur. Miles, herself, once said, in a presentation, that a Guardian ad Litem should represent the “pure” best interests of a child, and should not have any competing interests. As a GAL Coordinator, Miles should be held to an even higher standard because her job involves the supervision of other GALs. 

Interesting enough, the fatherhood org DOES have its own conflict of interest policy that its Board Members have to sign.

Laura Miles has been employed with the GAL program since 1997. Miles is well known for her role as GAL in the Grazzini-Rucki case, she was appointed in May 2013 after Julie Friedrich withdrew from the case. Friedrich withdrew after allegations of misconduct involving her role in the Grazzini-Rucki case became public.

The lack of accountability in the Minnesota GAL program leads to abuses of power, and conflicts of interest, that detract from the purpose of the program to protect children and, places the lives of children at risk. 

Julie Friedrich, Guardian ad Litem (GAL)

Julie Friedrich, Guardian ad Litem (GAL)

(2011) Judge Knutson Orders Reunification Therapy with David Rucki and Children, while HRO in place

DavidFlames

In 2011, Judge David Knutson ordered the Rucki children into reunification therapy and supervised visits with father, David Rucki. This happened while a harassment order was still in place against Rucki, barring him from contact with the neighbors, their children and the children enrolled in the daycare they operated.

This emerging information raises questions on the Grazzini-Rucki case in regards to allegations of domestic abuse and the allegedly violent behavior of David Rucki.  If David Rucki is not safe around other children – why would he be safe around his own children?

Background: In September 2009 a neighbor filed for and received a harassment restraining order (HRO) against David Rucki due to his violent and threatening behavior; some of this menacing behavior occurred in front of small children. The harassment order included that David can not have any contact with the neighbor’s own children, and can not have contact with children in a local daycare (run by the neighbor).

According to the HRO David Rucki terrorized the family in the following ways:

Made Threats:He said he would unleash holy hell if we ever turned him in again”. “He also did a threat later in the street. He’s mad we called animal control over his dogs.”

Exhibited Frightening Behavior: Loud, Cursing, Coming in Close proximity to their house and mailbox.

Called the Victim(s) Abusive Names: Called my wife a “bitch” and my son a “son of a bitch” and called us “assholes”. Cursing at us while daycare kids present.

(The HRO is not being published to protect the identity of the victims)

While the HRO was in place, David violated the order. Judge Karen Asphaug dismissed the charges; Asphaug is now the criminal judge presiding over the cases regarding the missing Rucki sisters. The neighbors were so frightened that they placed security cameras around their home.

The HRO remained in place for 2 years – the only reason the neighbors did not renew the HRO was because Sandra Grazzini-Rucki had a protective order in place that prohibited David from coming near the cul-de-sac, where the neighbors also lived, so they felt that restraining order would also protect their family. (Sandra’s protective order was later dismissed by Judge Knutson).

Knutson

Judge David Knutson

Rucki has made statements to the press that he does not have an anger problem and has never abused his children. Rucki admits that sometimes he just gets “frustrated”.

Michael Volpe has also published police reports filed against Rucki detailing other incidents where he exhibited threatening and violent behavior on his blog: David Rucki’s Greatest Hits (The Provocateur)

Court documents also indicate that Rucki was ordered in anger management classes on 3 separate occasions, and during the divorce was ordered into domestic abuse counseling.

In November 2013, Judge Knutson granted Rucki full custody of the children – at the time, the two eldest girls were missing, and both had made various allegations of abuse against their father, and disclosed abuse to the court-appointed therapist. Judge Knutson said the abuse allegations were not credible, and accused mother Sandra Grazzini-Rucki of brainwashing and parental alienation.

 

At the time of the court order giving Rucki sole custody, he was still on probation for a domestic violence charge with a violation of an order for protection. Judge Asphaug presided over the pre-trial on this case. David was discharged from probation on October 17, 2014 (Case No. 19AV-CR-11-14682). 

Does parental alienation alone produce multiple police reports concerning violent behavior, multiple witness reports and HROs in regards to violent and threatening behavior? Or is this just an abuse excuse?  Stay tuned to Red Herring Alert as we keep you updated on the latest developments in the Grazzini-Rucki case!