Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, a 50-year-old mother from Minnesota, has opted for prison time instead of probation for hiding her children – Gianna and Samantha Rucki – for over two years from their father and the rest of the world. Grazzini-Rucki has been involved in one the strangest cases in Minnesota.
The mother has sparked a national debate on parental rights. Some believe that a parent should do whatever it takes to protect their children including breaking the law, while others say they should respect a judge’s decision.
This week, Mrs. Grazzini-Rucki appeared in court accompanied by her lawyers to face the music. Grazzini-Rucki, who was found guilty in July of six counts of felony deprivation of parental rights, was given two choices by Judge Karen Asphaug.
The first option, be on probation for six years and spend 15 days in jail every year until 2022, or serve up to eight months in prison. She surprised many by picking the latter. Most law experts believe that with good behavior and due to the circumstances, Grazzini-Rucki will only be behind bars for about five months.
Along with the prison sentence, Grazzini-Rucki was also fined a total of $1,888 – which is $2 for each day Gianna and Samantha Rucki were missing. She will also have to pay $10,000 in restitution to the Minnesota Crime Victims’ Reparations Board.
David Rucki, the children’s father, said that the whole situation saddens him. Mr. Rucki also stated that he fears for his daughters because when their mother is released from prison, she will not be monitored. He said:
“In my mind, you want a level of accountability to be held on top of her. I fear she’ll see this as a victory for her.”
Mr. Rucki added:
“Sandy no longer understands what it means to be a parent, and therefore I don’t think she understands what she’s taken from me, or more importantly, my children.”
In the spring of 2013, Gianna and Samantha Rucki ran away from home as their parents were going through a very tumultuous divorce process. The sisters claimed that the father abused them, but a court-appointed psychologist discovered that Grazzini-Rucki had brainwashed them.
After a judge granted full custody to David Rucki, the mother, and her two daughters fled to a ranch belonging to Doug and Gina Dahlen.
The Dahlens kept the family hidden for over two years because they were sympathetic to Grazzini-Rucki’s claims that the family court system failed her children. The Dahlens have also been charged with deprivation of parental rights for allegedly helping to hide the girls. Gianna and Samantha Rucki are now living with their father.