A Lakeville mother has been found guilty of hiding her two daughters from their father for more than two years.
Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, 50, was accused of taking her daughters – Samantha and Gianna Rucki, then ages 13 and 14 – to a horse ranch in western Minnesota, where they stayed from April 2013 to November 2015.
Hiding the children was in violation of a child custody order a judge had issued as part of Grazzini-Rucki's contentious divorce from her husband, a news release from the Dakota County Attorney's Office says. He was awarded custody, and prosecutors argued Grazzini-Rucki hid the girls out of spite, KARE 11 says.
“It is simply inappropriate and unacceptable for any parent to hide their children and keep them from the custodial parent in violation of a court order for any amount of time," Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said in a statement.
After deliberating for five hours, a jury found Grazzini-Rucki guilty Thursday of six counts of deprivation of parental rights, the release says. She was acquitted of two other charges related to causing minors to be runaways.
Backstrom says they are "pleased" with the jury's decision, noting "the almost two and a half years that these children were hidden led to significant trauma to her daughters and caused significant adverse impacts to the rest of her family."
Grazzini-Rucki was taken into custody following the jury's verdict Thursday morning, and is being held on $100,000 bail without conditions. She will be sentenced on Sept. 21 at 9 a.m.
Three others have also been charged with deprivation of custodial/parental rights involving the concealment of a minor in connection to this case.
The case against the ranch owners – Gina Schmit Dahlen and Douglas Craig Dahlen – is still pending. A jury trial for Deirdre Elise Evavold is set to being Sept. 26 – she's accused of driving with Grazzini-Rucki to drop the girls off at the ranch.