Doug and Gina Dahlen were each sentenced to one year in jail today at the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings for their role in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki from Lakeville, Minnesota. The Dahlens’ full jail sentence was stayed, pending the successful completion of two-years probation.
They both will serve 31 days in jail – one day for each month the Rucki sisters were held at their ranch in Herman, Minnesota.
On April 19, 2013, the Rucki sisters disappeared during a custody and divorce dispute involving their parents – Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki.
The sisters were taken near their home in Lakeville by their mother in violation of a court order and were later driven to the Dahlen’s ranch in northern Minnesota by their mother, Grazzini-Rucki and her friend, Dede Evavold on April 21, 2013.
Doug and Gina Dahlen, who pleaded guilty in January, admitted in court they knew David Rucki had been awarded custody of his children and that they failed to contact to David Rucki or law enforcement that the missing Rucki kids were living on their ranch. The Dahlens had each been charged with six felony counts for their role in the disappearance of the Rucki sisters.
By pleading guilty to one count, the remaining counts against the Dahlens were dismissed. Doug and Gina Dahlen are scheduled to report to jail on May 16, 2017, at 9AM.
Dahlens will remain on probation for two years
Judge Karen Asphaug also sentenced the Dahlens to serve probation for the next two-years, during which time they will be prohibited from having non familial minor children stay overnight at their home. Judge Asphaug also ruled that the Dahlens may not provide any respite care, as the Dahlens have not been licensed to provide this service.
The Dahlens were also ordered to pay $10,000 to the Minnesota Crime Victims Reparations Board and they both must also pay fines of $942, which represents the 942 days the Rucki sisters were held at the Dahlens’ ranch. Additional conditions of the Dahlens’ sentence include no contact with David Rucki, his sister Dr. Tammy Love, and Samantha and Gianna Rucki.
Judge applauded David Rucki’s parenting
Before issuing a sentence to the Dahlens, Judge Asphaug spoke directly to David Rucki stating that his anger toward Doug and Gina Dahlen is “clear, righteous and justified.” She went on to comment that his victim impact statement was the most thoughtfully prepared statement she had heard in her 22 years on the bench.
Judge Asphaug commended David Rucki for the pragmatic, practical, hands on realistic loving way he set about being a dad to five children whose lives were turned upside down. She ended simply by saying “thank you.”
Judge Asphaug said that Grazzini-Rucki was “motivated by vengence. She waged a personal vendetta against Mr. Rucki. She instilled fear in the minds and hearts of the girls.” Judge Asphaug added that Sandra Grazzini-Rucki “set this in motion.”
In speaking to Evavold’s motivation, Judge Asphaug stated she was “motivated by polictical ill will and distrust of government.”
Court hears how Dahlens failed to provide Rucki children access to medical care
During both of their victim impact statements, David Rucki and Dr. Tammy Love spoke to the lack of medical care provided to Samantha and Gianna Rucki by the Dahlens during the 942 days they were held at the Dahlens’ ranch.
Dr. Love provided insight into the lack of routine medical care needed by children in their teenage years while David Rucki detailed the medical conditions of the girls upon their return home. He went on to describe multiple painful reconstructive medical procedures that were required due to the maltreatment they endured on the Dahlens’ ranch.
Future of the White Horse Ranch in doubt
Doug and Gina Dahlen live at the White Horse Ranch, located in Herman, Minnesota. The 162-acre property which includes the White Horse Ranch has been the subject of a dispute between Dahlen and his second wife, Pamela Nelson.
Court documents from Dahlen’s divorce from Nelson in 2009, the rural Minnesota property was to be sold with the proceeds being divided between Dahlen and Nelson. On November 3, 2014, the court ordered Doug to “vacate the property” if it had not been sold within six months. Doug was also provided with the option of purchasing Nelson’s interest in the property.
According to recent court filings, the listing of the property allowed for the cancellation of an evidentiary hearing that had been scheduled relative to Dahlen’s failure to comply with orders to vacate or buyout Nelson’s interest in the property.
The White Horse Ranch is currently for sale, and the ability of Doug and Gina Dahlen to work with children remains in doubt. Related to the operation of the ranch, Gina Dahlen previously testified in court that the White Horse Ranch has not been licensed to provide therapy to children.
A review of multiple regulatory agencies showed that no licenses or accreditation have been issued to either Doug or Gina Dahlen, or the White Horse Ranch for therapy or treatment of children, or to practice equine therapy.
Missing for 944 days
On November 18, 2015 – 944 days after they disappeared – the girls were found living on a Dahlen’s ranch by law enforcement, headed by the Lakeville Police Department. In total, Samantha and Gianna were held at the White Horse Ranch for 942 days.
David Rucki was awarded full custody of all five of his children in November 2013, while two of his daughters remained missing. David Rucki was reunited with his daughters days after they were found on a rural ranch in northern Minnesota. They live with him and their other siblings at the family’s home in Lakeville.
The Dakota County Attorney’s Office charged four adults for their involvement in the disappearance of the Rucki sisters for 944 days.
Grazzini-Rucki was convicted in July 2016 on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights.
Evavold was found guilty in September on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights related to the disappearance the girls.
The decision by Doug and Gina Dahlen to plead guilty ensured that Assistant Dakota County Attorney Kathy Kenna successfully prosecuted all of the people criminally charged related to the disappearance of the Rucki sisters.