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Part I: A Custody Battle Gone Too Far

The story ABC News recently covered of a married couple and their five children is a convoluted one that spans several family law issues and a range of emotions. Some might have viewed the report on “20/20” and come away feeling as if the mother was a manipulative liar. Others might have seen the story or read the accompanying article and felt afterwards that the father was a physically and emotionally abusive victimizer.

Most will likely feel some sadness that the five children were caught between their parents embroiled in a bitter divorce and no-holds-barred custody battle. Butler County residents could see the segment on WCPO when it aired recently, and can still go to the network’s website to view it.

It details the years-long war between the parents, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki, who lived in Lakeville, Minnesota. Sandra filed for divorce in 2011 after years of what she described as physical and emotional abuse.

When a court-ordered psychologist said the mother had engaged in parental alienation, manufacturing fear among her children of their father, custody of the kids was temporarily transferred from Sandra to a relative.

It was then that the two oldest daughters ran away, ABC reports. The girl hid on a Minnesota ranch with a couple allied with their mother. They hid in plain sight, according to reports, until their discovery by police last year.

Today, Sandra awaits trial on felony charges of deprivation of parental rights. Her former husband is trying to reestablish relationships with his children.

Please read more of this unfortunate tale in our follow-up blog post. 

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