In the next several days, Assistant Dakota County Prosecutor Kathryn Keena will start her closing arguments in the Teenager Family Abduction Case of the State of Minnesota County of Dakota vs. Sandra Sue Grazzini Rucki. We have an enormous amount of admiration, respect and confidence in Prosecutor Keena. We understand she has previously argued a case in the United States Supreme Court. The guilty verdict in this case and the attempt by Sandra Rucki and her small group of supporters to legalize parental kidnappings will have a significant impact on future Missing Children’s Cases in America.
In Sandra Rucki’s divorce, she was not willing engage in coparenting or joint custody of her children. She continued to do everything possible to interfere with the custody of her children. As a flight attendant she could have easily agreed to joint custody and have merely gone on her with life with her new boyfriend. She could have made the most her custody time with her children and even used the hundreds of thousands of dollars she received in an inheritance in providing for her children.
Instead, Sandra Rucki did what a handful of moms do. She found the protective parent or family court critic movement and a group of supporters to assist her in sending her teenage daughters “underground“. In Sandra Rucki’s case, she found Dede Evavold and eventually Gina and Doug Dahlen to assist her in kidnapping them.
For almost 2 years, Sandra Rucki denied knowing where her children were and eventually went into hiding to Florida, to a vacation resort. She cut off her custody time with her three other children. And she now wants us to believe that during those two years, she did not contact her two teenage daughters in hiding.
In these protective parent trials, the protective mom like Sandra will say just about anything to be found not guilty. In her protest of her Family Court system case, she believes she has a license to commit perjury. After a divorce, as Family Courts move in the direction gender equality and joint custody or coparenting, the courts want parents to share custody. Protective moms like Sandra Rucki are use to getting what they want and are unwilling to take any other outcome. In most of these cases, they push the limits and tolerance of the Family Court Judge that judge eventually orders a major change in the custody. And in this case, the two teenage daughters, an order was given for them to live with their aunt. That’s when Sandra Rucki send the children into hiding.
Social Scientists have studied family abductions and in most of the cases, the motive is anger and revenge and not love for the children. In 75% of the cases, they found that a family member or friend knew the location of the children. In this case that friend was Dede Evavold, who was one of the founders of the Minnesota Protective Parent Organization.
The Protective Protective/Family Court Critic Movement or cause has been around since the ’80s with cases like Elizabeth Morgan and Faye Yager of the Children of the Underground. But in Sandra Rucki’s jury trial, those names will not be mentioned. That’s because Assistant Dakota County Prosecutor Kathryn Keena has also decided to prosecute the conspirators Dede Evavold, Gina Dahlen and Doug Dahlen. That decision is unprecedented because in most of these cases the conspirators are in other states or countries. Since the members of the network are also charged, they are not out publicizing their cause to the media.
Since the ’90s, the Protective Parent Movement has wanted to create a network of attorneys, exert witnesses, child abuse professionals and activists to help protective moms theoretically write their former spouse out of their children’s lives. The belief is that once an allegation is made, maternal custody is favored over joint custody with her former spouse receiving supervised visitation only and of course she wants to receive child support payments. However, after 9-11, it became more difficult for protective moms to obtain falsified U.S. Passports.
So in Hermann, Minnesota, Gina Dahlen, a former pharmaceutical sales representative and her husband Doug Dahlen setup a horse therapy camp for children. They hid the two teenage daughters at that camp. This was an ideal hiding place for the teenagers in a remote area of Minnesota where it appears people in that small town did not ask questions about the two daughters living in that community.
For most jurors and individuals hearing about this case, they may not understand the plight of the Searching Father and his Family in this case. For almost 2 years, this family had no idea where these teenagers were. If they were even alive. There were grocery bags used at local store with the photos of the kidnapped teenagers printed on them. The Searching Family had to provide an explanation to the younger siblings where their sisters were. In the terms of a Teenager Family Abduction Case like this, Sandra Rucki and her support network played “Judge, Jury and Executioner”. Some would say that one of the most severe forms of Family Violence is a parental kidnapping.
In cases like this, Sandra Rucki had many other legal alternatives before deciding to kidnap her children. She could have gone back to court and asked for another custody evaluation. She could have simply taken her custody time and gone back to sharing custody like Kelly Rutherford, Madonna and Guy Ritchie. But Sandra Rucki did not do that. She wanted to take her case to the media, social media and a Nationwide ABC 20/20 TV Show to tell her story. It appears she wanted to give back to the cause by taking her case to trial regardless of the impact on her children, her family and former spouse.
This week, it is up to Dakota County Assistant Prosecutor Kathryn Keena to tell the jury why Sandra Rucki needs to be found guilty on all 6 Felony Counts. She must convince the jurors that a guilty vote will protect the rights of teenage children against kidnapping like this. She must ensure that Dakota County Minnesota jurors understand their obligation to send the message to others that it will not tolerate this crime against children. This is important to deter others from committing this crime.