August 01, 2016 Sandra Grazzini-Rucki story/The Fix. Podcasts: Archived programs
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.)
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.
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?
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…
“20/20” ran a program entitled “Footprints in the Snow” about the disappearance in April 2013 of Samantha and Gianna Rucki; Did they tell the whole story.
WASHINGTON, April 14, 2016 – A recent ABC “20/20” report on a bitter custody battle that led to the disappearance of two Lakeville, Minnesota girls for more than two years may have ignored critical facts.
On April 8, 2016, “20/20” ran a program entitled “Footprints in the Snow” about the disappearance in April 2013 of Samantha and Gianna Rucki, who ran away from home during a bitter custody dispute, leaving nothing but footprints in the snow.
The show hinged on claims by the parents. The mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, said she was abused by her ex-husband, David Rucki. David Rucki, on the other hand, said she made up the allegations and brainwashed their children into believing her, which he called parental alienation.
In the critical scene of the program, Elizabeth Vargas, the show’s host, asked Sandra to provide proof of abuse during their marriage saying: “I’m asking for any of the documentation you assured us existed and we can find none of it.”
Sandra’s attorney, Michelle MacDonald, went back to her office, where producers rummaged through several thousand papers and then proclaimed, “In more than 20 boxes we didn’t find a single piece of paper or photo to provide that any physical abuse existed.”
But this appears to twist what MacDonald provided them.
According to a 42-page document provided by MacDonald to “20/20,” there was a litany of evidence of abuse including an affidavit, criminal charges and convictions, and numerous incident reports made by Sandra.
Re-blogged from Lion News
Lion News is a local grassroots media outlet. Lion News focuses in on local corruption.
The Long Version with Fletcher Long
A criminal defense attorney found guilty of a criminal offense has had his law license yanked by the Tennessee Supreme Court.
It’s an expected move given attorney Fletcher Long and another attorney, Carrie Gasaway, were convicted of extortion in Clarksville just four months ago. They agreed to forfeit their law licenses in exchange for a sentence of probation instead of prison.
You know Long’s name because of the work he’s done in high-profile cases in Tennessee: He defended Brandon Vandenburg, one of four former Vanderbilt University football players accused of rape; the so-called Wooded Rapist, who was connected to as many as 13 victims; and one of the Memphis men accused of killing Holly Bobo, whose partial remains were found three years after she disappeared.
Long declined to comment, saying via text message he was excited about his new gig: a radio talk show.
A release from the Board of Professional Responsibility, which regulates and investigates attorney misconduct, said Long consented to the disbarment. It also says there were five other complaints pending before the BPR with similar allegations.
Gasaway is still going through the disciplinary process in regards to her law license.
Reach Stacey Barchenger at 615-726-8968 and on Twitter @sbarchenger.