Mom who hid daughters gets probation, jail time

Mom who hid daughters gets jail time

HASTINGS, Minn. - A Lakeville mom who hid her daughters on a secluded ranch for more than two years -- intentionally keeping them away from their father -- has been sentenced to six years probation. 

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, 50, was found guilty in late July on six of the eight charges against her -- all felony counts of depriving custodial rights.

She will also serve jail time, which the Dakota County Attorney's Office now believes will be double what she was originally sentenced. 

On Wednesday, Judge Karen Asphaug sentenced her to spend 34 days in jail immediately and going forward, an additional 15 days in jail every year to start on Nov. 18 -- the anniversary of the day her daughters were found -- until 2022.

However, following the hearing, Grazzini-Rucki demanded the execution of her sentence -- requesting that she be able to serve all her jail time immediately, even though that means more days behind bars. 

If that is granted, Grazzini-Rucki will be required to serve an additional 233 days in jail, on top of the time she's already served. There will be a hearing to confirm her request but the Dakota County Attorney says it's her right -- and will likely end up being the new sentence.

Judge Asphaug called Grazzini-Rucki's actions to hid her girls the most senseless of acts, sympathizing with the children's father, David Rucki, who was tortured while his daughters were missing. 

"There's a saying -- my way or the highway -- you literally took to the highway when you didn't get your way in family court," Asphaug said.

What started as a heated custody battle, turned into a criminal investigation after Grazzini-Rucki executed a plan to hide her girls -- then ages 13 and 14 -- at a friend's secluded ranch in April of 2013, but claimed to authorities they ran away. Grazzini-Rucki argued she did this to protect them from alleged abuse at the hands of their father -- a claim that a family court judge ruled to be false. 
 
"You have always claimed that you acted in the best interests of your daughters. That you acted as a loving mother. If so, it defies logic that you left your three other children in the custody of the father you claim was abusive," Asphaug said.

An emotional David Rucki addressed the court, through tears saying, "in your attempt to destroy our kids' relationship with me, you destroyed your relationship with them."

Rucki and his son were in attendance at the sentencing, but the girls were not.

Rucki said his girls, who now live with him, are still trying to heal and that he doesn't know if they'll ever want a relationship with their mother.

"You used the children to try to destroy me, but you destroyed them in the process," he told the court.

Grazzini-Rucki declined the opportunity to speak and didn't show much emotion in court. She was taken into custody shortly after the sentencing. 


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