Dede Evavold is scheduled to be arraigned in Dakota County next week on new criminal charges filed against her related to her continued online harassment of the Rucki family.
On July 28, 2017, a judge in Dakota County signed a Harassment Restraining Order specifically stating “[Evavold] shall not name any member of the Rucki Family in any blog posting, social media posting, or internet posting” after determining “an immediate and present danger of harassment” by Evavold existed.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Dakota County on September 12, 2017, Evavold violated the Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) on August 2nd, August 3rd, and August 15th by posting names and photos of the Rucki family.
Evavold’s arraignment next week comes in the wake of two recent sentences in Minnesota, both for charges under Minnesota’s newly enacted “Revenge Porn” law.
Two men pleaded guilty for violating Minnesota’s “Revenge Porn” law
In Ramsey County, an Anoka man pleaded guilty to one count of felony nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images after posting naked photos of his ex-wife on a fake Facebook page. In Faribault County, an Iowa man also pleaded guilty to one felony count of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images. In this case, a fake Facebook page linked to a blog site containing naked photos of a woman.
Both of the men were sentenced to three years of supervised probation with the Ramsey County Judge imposing a 120-day jail sentence with credit for 56 days served and the Faribault County Judge requiring no additional time after the defendant had served 21 days in jail.
These recent cases are evidence that Minnesota has taken a hard line on this aptly named form of online harassment. In 2016, the Minnesota Legislature passed Minnesota Statute 617.261, which criminalized the dissemination of private sexual images, and reflects a recent trend in an increased intolerance for online harassment and bullying.
The wide reach of the Internet gives perpetrators fast, easy and nearly unlimited access to victims. Messages of hate, lies, and images can be distributed at the click of a button. Many people use the anonymity of the Internet to hide their identity, making it easier to harass and target their victims online.
In recent years there have been numerous highly publicized cases of online harassment which led the victims to commit suicide. These cases are evidence of the damage that can be done to a person who is the victim of harassment and/or bullying, even if it is online.
Victims of this kind of harassment feel violated, exposed, embarrassed and often live in fear. Because many perpetrators hide behind fake names and images these cases are often difficult to prosecute. Recent developments in technology coupled with the fact that perpetrators are often unable to remain anonymous have made identification of even “fake” posters a simpler process.
Evavold’s continued online harassment of the Rucki family
The Rucki family has become victims of perpetual, targeted online harassment, intimidation, and bullying. Photos of family members appear on multiple fake Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, and blog sites. False information and allegations are distributed almost daily with the clear intent of inciting others and causing fear among the family.
While that material is posted anonymously, Evavold continues to post under her own name and allow for the posting of harassing materials on the blog that she has, on numerous occasions, claimed ownership over. The blog has not only posted photos of David Rucki and his children, but there have also been posts featuring photos of the inside of the Rucki home with a map showing the exact location.
Despite being restricted from posting about the Rucki family through the terms of her probation after being convicted on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights for her role in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki, Evavold began posting on the blog immediately upon being released from jail. When the postings continued for months without interference by probation officials, the Rucki family requested a Harassment Restraining Order.
Even after the HRO was served on Evavold, she continued the postings in direct violation of the HRO.
In fact, Evavold violated the (HRO) less than 36 hours after being warned by a judge at a court hearing in Dakota County that she could face additional criminal charges, including gross misdemeanor and felony charges if she continues to violate the HRO.
Evavold now faces the possibility of her stayed sentence for the felony convictions being revoked which would send Evavold back to jail. She also faces new criminal charges for repeated violations of the HRO.
It seems her desire to harass and intimidate the Rucki family is far greater than her desire to be free from jail.
As the laws and rules of our state continue to catch up with technology and begin to focus on accountability for crimes committed on the internet it is reasonable to expect the court to enforce the probationary terms as well as the HRO.
Evavold may not be posting pornographic images of her victims, but she is targeting and harassing them. It seems she is motivated, as were the men charged last week, by a need for revenge.