Parental Alienation Scandal: From Affluent Family to Felon: The Tragic Tale of Sandra ‘Sam’ Grazzini

By Michael Volpe

It was a child custody case so explosive that it made international headlines. It turned one parent – the mother – into a felon, and another – the allegedly abusive father  – into a deeply sympathetic figure.

Family court, the police, and the media manufactured a story so profoundly untrue that the mother, Sandra ‘Sam’ Grazzini, has not seen her children in 10 years.

David Rucki and Sandra “Sam” Grazzini first met in junior college in 1984.  In 1991, David asked Sam to marry him, and she became Sandra Grazzini-Rucki.

Sandra “Sam” Grazzini and David Rucki

Sam came from an affluent family in Minnesota. Her parents were among the initial investors in what would become Medtronics. David Rucki was a product of a working-class family.

With a loan from Sam’s family, David and Sam started a truck broker business. She also worked as a flight attendant.

The couple had five children: Nico, Samantha, Gianna, Nia, and Geno. All are over eighteen now.

They lived in the Minneapolis suburb of Lakeville, and the Rucki family appeared to have an ideal life. All was not as it seemed.

A few years after they married, Sam claims David began hitting her.

If you’ve seen coverage of this case on 20/20, Minneapolis Star Tribune, KARE, the Daily Mail, and others, you might believe the domestic abuse never occurred.

David had a history of alleged violence. It includes a bar fight, a road rage incidentthreatening to kill his in-law, stalking his ex-wife, choking Sam, and violating protective orders.

He allegedly chased his daughter Samantha on her 13th birthday until she barricaded herself in her house. His son, Nico, told CPS that his father stuck a gun to his head when he was eight. See Page 15 of a 25-page CPS report.

His daughter Samantha made an audio in which she stated, “Before the whole divorce, he’d always come home drunk, or he’d beat my mom to no end. I mean he went after her with an organ leg once. He legit went after her with an organ leg.” Samantha said in the audio. “He’s choked, slapped, hit, and verbally abused her.”

In 2009, David Rucki screamed uncontrollably and swore at two- and three-year-olds. Police charged him with disorderly conduct. Judge Karen Asphaug dismissed those charges on the eve of trial.

David Rucki

Sam left David in 2011. A marriage full of abuse turned into one of the easiest divorces ever.

David did not hire a lawyer; he didn’t contest the divorce.

“You take the kids, but give me your half of the trucking business,” David told her, Sam claimed.

So David got the business and Sam got the children.

Judge Tim Wermeger of Dakota County issued a divorce decree on May 12, 2011, stating, “The parties were able to settle all issues arising out of the dissolution of the marriage including child custody and support; spousal maintenance; disposition of real and personal property, and the payment of debts and attorney’s fees.”

A few weeks after the agreement was signed, David retained attorney Lisa Elliott and challenged the divorce. He claimed he didn’t want to get divorced, and thought it was only a paper divorce to save money on insurance and other financial benefits.

Judge David Knutson presided over the action to set aside the divorce. He appointed attorney Julie Friedrich as the guardian ad litem to represent the children.

The so-called paper divorce turned into a real divorce, with David challenging everything from the money to custody.

The problem was that the kids wanted nothing to do with their father. 

This was heightened by an incident at daughter Samantha’s twelfth birthday party on June 23, 2011 – where David seemed out of control.

In August 2012, Judge Knutson appointed Paul Reitman to evaluate the family.

“The children appear very depressed and browbeaten,” Reitman would write in his report. Making an illegal diagnosis, he added, “The mother appears out of touch and suffering from a personality disorder.”

Paul Reitman

He recommended taking the kids away from both parents and placing them in “therapeutic foster care.”

Sam told me she remembers the meeting with Reitman lasting less than a half hour, and he asked each of the four kids who were there only one question.

Reitman’s report was used to get an emergency telephonic conference on September 5, 2012. Neither parent attended this conference, neither did Reitman, but it led to an order on September 7, 2012 that removed the children from their mother, whom they wanted to live with and had been living with all their lives.

In this order, Judge Knutson removed custody from both parents. As part of the long term plan to take the children from the mother to fulfill the lofty and profitable goals of parental alienation, David’s sister Tami moved into the home to take temporary custody of her nieces and nephews.

The judge gave Sam three hours to vacate her home.

Judge Knutson appointed a psychologist, Jim Gilbertson, as the therapist to earn money as he made sure that parental alienation was found against Sam.

Everyone was making money, everyone was happy except the children and their mother.

In a recording, daughter Samantha accused kindly Dr. Gilbertson of rubbing her shoulders while sporting an erection.

On the fateful day, when Judge Knutson took one mother away from five children, the unhappy ones were in school. They came home and found their aunt, not their mother, the woman who raised them, in their home.

Judge Knutson

They ran to the police station.

Four of the five – all except Nico – were allowed to live with their maternal aunt Nancy – Sam’s sister. That continued until April 19, 2013.

But the fix was in and the court decided that parental alienation was the cruel winner.

Aunt Nancy was instructed to take Samantha and Gianna for pizza, and then stop at the Lakeville Police station.

There they were treated to the shock therapy parental alienation has in store for children – as it traumatizes them to assuage unhappy but affluent fathers – for David had money now – since he had control of the trucking business.

Yes, the children got their trauma shock. At the police station they were told they’d be going back to live with their aunt Tami, and that their dad would move in and get sole custody.

Dr. ‘Woody’ Gilbertson was on the phone at the police station and he said “that was the plan all along,” he told the girls. Since he was on the phone it is not known if he had an erection when he delivered the devastating news to the girls.

According to old ‘Woody’s  notes, though this order was signed on April 19, 2013, everyone knew at least ten days ahead of time that the custody flip was in store.

Here are part of ‘Woody’ Gilbertson’s notes from April 9, 2013.

“I immediately received a call from Ms. {Nancy} Olson stating that she wanted the transfer to occur as soon as possible because of the fear the children will learn of this through some unknown means and will run.


“As noted previously, I spoke with Ms. Frederick {sic} about the utilization of the police department as place to meet with the children.”

The police drove the girls to their home with a missing mother – where gruesome Aunt Tami was waiting.

They were there for 30 minutes before the traumatized children ran away.

The local Fox affiliate ran a story on this divorce weeks after the girls ran. The reporter, Trish Van Pilsum, interviewed the girls in a hotel room shortly after they ran.

“This case highlights something called parental alienation,” that news story started, “and raises the question, ‘could you lose your kids for turning them against your ex?”

You bet your life you can – even if your ex deserves to be shunned.

This was the scam David Rucki was running: a scam known well to Frank Report readers.

Rucki got Gilbertson, Friedrich, and Judge Knutson all to believe this was parental alienation because the kids all feared David – all except Nico – and no one – except the kids believed kindly looking and affluent David was abusive.

He paid his bills and took his choice.

Since this collection of so-called professionals found no reason for dad to be hated, not when he paid them so well – it must have been parental alienation.

Both girls sent audio tapes to Judge Knutson begging to live with their mom, their primary attachment figure.

The good judge was unmoved.  But both girls were still missing.

He held a custody trial on September 11-12, 2013.

On the eve of the trial, Sam’s attorney, Michelle MacDonald, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Judge Knutson and others. That only made the judge angry.

She asked him to recuse himself. He declined, but his anger rose to a fever pitch.

On the second day of trial, Michelle took a photo inside the courtroom. She wanted to document the kangaroo nature of the proceedings.

A sheriff’s deputy approached Michelle and detained her. That photo was grounds for contempt of court.

The deputy asked Michelle her name.

“You know my name,” Michelle told him defiantly.

The Deputy threw Michelle into a nearby wheelchair and handcuffed her to it.

He wheeled her in a wheelchair for the rest of the hearing.

Her client was missing, so were the children – they were in hiding.

Michelle made her closing argument handcuffed to a wheelchair.

 Judge Knutson decided the case. David got sole custody, and he got to keep all the marital assets.

The two girls remained missing, living quietly with their mother for two years until — on April 19, 2015, Brandon Stahl of the Minneapolis Star Tribune did a story.

The story starts, “On a 30-degree day two years ago, teenage sisters Samantha and Gianna Rucki ran away from their Lakeville home. They didn’t even put on their shoes and coats when they left the house and got into a waiting vehicle.

“The sisters, 14 and 13 at the time, have been missing ever since, two of 25 Minnesota children whose faces are publicized by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Their disappearance followed a bitter custody battle between their parents that has taken turns toward the bizarre. Under court order to help locate their children, both parents say they don’t know where Samantha and Gianna are now. Police say they have followed up on every tip they’ve received. The mother is considered a “person of interest” in the case, said police Detective Jim Dronen.”

Dale Nathan, a disbarred Minnesota lawyer had made the stupendously stupid mistake of contacting reporter Stahl – thinking he would get a sympathetic story.

Nathan was with Sam the night of April 19, 2013, confirming what everyone had long suspected. Sam knew where her daughters, Samantha and Gianna, were.

They had called their mother on April 19, 2013.

Everyone had ignored the case for two years, but following Stahl’s story, Michael Brodkorb, who wrote a political blog for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, took a keen interest. He took up the father’;s side almost as if he were being paid to do so.

He would later write a bookstart his own website on the case, and testified in 2020 that his job was to cover this case. He did not disclose who paid him from this job. But every story supported David.

By August 2015, an investigation  heated up, and an arrest warrant was approved for Sam and somehow was leaked to Stahl.

The police claimed her sealed warrant got accidentally released due to a “computer glitch.”

In October 2015, Sam, working still as an airline attendant, finished a flight. She was in a timeshare in Florida when four US Marshals in SWAT gear burst down her door, put rifles to her head, and said, “Where are the guns; where are the girls?”

The US Marshals told her that Minnesota wanted her for kidnapping and gun running.

The gun running part wasn’t right. – that was just added to get the Marshall’s involved in something they otherwise would not pursue.

There was a warrant- the one leaked to Stahl- for parental deprivation- a crime carrying presumed probation but there were no guns and everyone knew it but the duped US Marshalls.

Sam was brought to Osceola County jail, where officials there were told she was an “assaultive felon,” put in maximum security, and shared a cell with Elizabeth Rios, who was charged with murder.

Sam spent about two and a half weeks there, then she was handcuffed, shackled, and thrown into a prison van and driven the long drive from Florida to Minnesota.

She arrived in Minnesota, and Judge Knutson ordered a $1 million cash bond.

Meanwhile, authorities found the girls on a ranch for abused children operated by Doug and Gina Dahlen in October 2015.

The Dahlen’s were charged. So was a woman named Dede Evavold who once worked with Gina, whose crime was that she recommended to Sam that the girls should go to the Dahlen’s ranch to hide from their abusive father.

Once captured, the teenage girls begged to be placed into foster care rather than return to their abusive father.  The judge ignored their wishes. Parental alienation is indifferent to the suffering of children and is so parent-centric [and profit centric] that children’s lives will be destroyed so long as the paying parent has his wishes fulfilled.

Sam could not make bail and so she remained locked up for four months until she was released — only because the state of Minnesota was unprepared to start the trial.

The story caught the eye of 20/20 on ABC.

It may have started in one direction, but somehow, possibly because Sam was in prison and did not have access to important documents – it took a nasty anti-mother turn.

The broadcast aired in April 2016.

“You told us there was evidence of abuse,” host Elizabeth Vargas said to Sam as she was interviewed in prison.

“We could find none of it.”

The broadcast claimed to have gone through many boxes in attorney Michelle’s office, “finding no evidence of abuse.”

“As you know, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki specifically told us in our interview that she went to Lakeville PD several times during her marriage. She was specific about what she told them regarding the physical abuse she suffered. She also told us that she had photographs to corroborate her allegations of abuse. But neither she nor her attorney was able to produce these reports or photographs, and Lakeville PD had no records of any domestic violence reports from Sandra during her marriage.”

Sam had evidence, but from prison she did not have access and her attorney’s skill with the media lacked persuasiveness. On the other hand, David’s battery of paid players were attentive, diplomatic and eager – and David himself was the portrait of a victim – a poor dad falsely accused by a jailbird mother.

The tables were turned.

Judge Karen Asphaug

In September 2016, Judge Karen Asphaug presided over Sam’s, the Dahlen’s, and Dede’s criminal trials.

She granted motions in limine by the prosecution, forbidding any mention of David Rucki’s alleged violent history during the trial

Judge Asphuag barred Sam from even uttering the words “abuse” and “domestic violence” so as not to confuse the jury who were supposed to convict her.  

One of the prospective jurors admitted he like David was kept away from his children by their mother, “like this woman is accused.”

Sam wanted him excluded but Judge Asphaug found nothing wrong with this. He wound up as the jury foreman.

Another juror said they knew David Rucki’s family, but despite Sam’s effort to exclude him, Judge Asphaug felt the person would make a fine juror. 

Three journalists- Brodkorb, Stahl, and a reporter for the Lakeville newspaper- were eager for a good story, and they did something novel. They approached the jury for interviews during the trial.

In most courts, in most free lands, where due process is known, this would be grounds for censure of the individuals, and if the jurors interviewed with them – it would be automatic grounds for a mistrial.

Jusge Asphuag did not feel the need for due process and let it go.

Young Samantha told a cop that her aunt and father were pressuring her to recant a month before the trial – a clear case of witness tampering. But Judge Asphaug never believed the children. 

The jury convicted Sam.

Judge Asphaug sentenced Sam to a year and a day.

The conviction was eventually overturned, but the appeals court ignored allegations of jury tampering, witness tampering, and judicial bias.

By that time, Sam was broke, and not permitted to see her children, she moved out of lawless Minnesota as a convicted felon.

In 2021, the State of Florida opened a case against her for back-due child support for her kids, all over eighteen by then.

to compete the picture, – in October 2022, Dan Abrams picked up the story for his A & E show, Court Cam. He described the incident where attorney Michelle was forced to conduct part of the trial, handcuffed to a wheelchair, blaming Michelle for the incident.

In the 20/20 episode, David, the kindly father-victim, claimed he would reunite the family.

Elizabeth Vargas from ABC’s “20/20” interviewing Sam Grazzini-Rucki

Shedding something that looked very nearly like crocodilian tears, David emotionally said,, “the children need a mother.”

It never happened.  David got the company. He got the children.

Sam hasn’t seen her children for 10 years. And while she was accused of alienating the children from David, he successfully alienated them from her. 

She lives away, secluded, unseen and unknown – a felon – not in contact with her children.

A smashed up mother.

Just another victory for parental alienation. 

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  • We can all agree that the current court system is uninformed, and inappropriate in its involvement in family matters OR a worse they are all in due to the lucrative and incentivized financial profiting.
    It’s simply not the right tool as it invokes further conflict and rewards parents who treat their children as property and voluntarily, or involuntarily cast a big black cloud on the other. As correct as that statement is, neither is “mental health” an appropriate remedy. There is too much gender and politicization of the child Victims in these cases. There is one clear and inarguable fact about “PA” regardless of one’s acceptance of the pathology, or rejection of its concept: PA is a catchall phrase that describes a set of behaviors designed to train a child to reject another parent. Nowhere in 5 million years of human evolution does this type of behavior exist other than the past 50 years inside of our legal family court system.
    To argue the virtues for or against is divisive and adds to the controversy. To simply address it as what it is: behaviors is the only way out. You cannot explain away, rationalize, or validate the child’s behaviors in that context. Except to say that the child is being systematically trained by someone, somewhere and it’s child abuse aka brainwashing . But of course there’s no money to be had in that is there? Mudslinging and controversy is the perfect fodder for all involved: the courts, lawyers, GALS, pro PA, Anti PA, women’s rights DV advocates, men’s rights groups, social services, political leaders and yes, even media celebrities who pen hit pieces pretending to advocate for “the children”. They all feed off of the corpses. In the meantime, children and parents are severed.

  • That dipshit Assphaiug should be impeached for posing with the EU flag. Europe brought us the Nazi’s. The EU flag is the new Swastika.

  • Minnesota has a long and tragic history with corruption failures in it’s family court, Guardian ad Litem program and Child Protection system. Thank you Michael Volpe for reporting where lamestream media fails to go -the truth. The records and documentation Volpe has publicly posted from the actual Rucki court record, social services, D.R. criminal cases / harassment orders etc clearly show that the Dakota County family court system not only failed to protect the Rucki children from abuse but colluded with a dangerous abuser in doing so.

    There were so many disturbing things I read in the records….

    – At one time all 5 Rucki children attempted to run away after they learned that the family court planned to put them in the custody of the abusive father they feared.
    – Instead of taking action to hold D.R. accountable, the family court, GAL and its hand selected professionals called the children liars and forced them into reunification therapy. The Rucki children resisted reunification therapy, and one of the children became physically ill after being forced into court ordered “therapy” with D.R. Bailiffs were used to intimidate the children and guard the door so they could not leave the sessions.
    – The 2 Rucki sisters who ran away gave consistent reports of their father’s drinking problems, physical violence, threats and abuse of their mother. These concerns were noted in the reports of Dr. Gilbertson, Dakota County CPS, the Guardian ad Litem, and other professionals. Judge Knutson and the Guardian ad Litem Julie Friedrich also ignored reports of sexual abuse. Behaviors consistent with trauma, and exposure to domestic violence in the Rucki children were mislabeled as them suffering from “parental alienation”.
    – After being discovered in Nov 2015, the Rucki sisters again raised allegations of abuse, hoping someone would help them. A Dakota County social worker did believe the abuse happened and fought to limit physical contact with father D.R. to supervised visits only. The social worker also believed the girls would be safest in foster care. The Rucki sisters also were represented by an attorney who fought to keep them in foster care. The abuse, personal statements of both Rucki sisters, professional recommendation from a Dakota County social worker, evidence of abuse in the record was not enough to convince the judge;who just happens to be close friends with Judge David Knuston.
    – The Rucki girls were escorted from the courtroom by a guard, and shipped ut of state to enter into reunification therapy with father, D.R. The reunification therapy was conducted in a remote location both girls were isolated from any human contact except their father and the “therapist”. They were dependent on the therapist for shelter, food, clothing and survival. There was no place to run for help. No sign of civilization. No access to phone or electronics. And they did not have free movement. And the girls had seen every possibility for help turn against them and now jail their protector and mother. It is under these circumstances the Rucki children recanted abuse.
    – Reunification therapy was developed by pro-pedophilia psychiatrist Dr. Richard Garder. Gardner made his living working as a court witness and testifying in custody trials. He died of “suicide” by overdosing on pills and then slashing himself in the neck and chest. Reunification therapy has been called “junk science” and its use is controversial.
    – D.R.’s abusive behavior continued. At the time reunification therapy began, D.R. was on probation for a road rage incident where he brutally beat, with his bare fists, a motorist in the parking lot of a local grocery store.
    – While the Rucki girls attended reunification therapy, the criminal investigation and trial regarding their disappearance was underway. Meaning both girls were material witnesses, and would be called to court to testify. So ordering the girls into reunification therapy and coercing them to recant abuse allegations and sympathize with the identified perpetrator is witness tampering. It is also abusive.
    – D.R. was awarded 100% of the marital property in the divorce – the business, multiple houses, multiple vehicles, bank accounts, personal property and even S.G.R. inheritance. YET D.R. claims he is living in poverty and collected welfare benefits and government assistance while living a life of luxury.
    – While SGR was incarcerated for charges related to parental deprivation, with no income and now no chance of employment, DR sought to collect child support. DR remained in the family home, and kept SGR name attached to the property to further his financial schemes.
    – Dakota County and the State of Minnesota have been willing accomplices throughout the Rucki case – colluding with DR despite concerns raised, complaints filed and documentation of various violations of the law, violations of human rights, suspected financial fraud, and court failures to protect children from abuse.
    – Homeless is probably the safest place for SGR because clearly she is not safe in Minnesota.

    • She is not homeless!!!!! No one on Minnesota gives two sh*** whether she lives there or not. It is a big state. No one thought about this woman in ten years, except maybe the people she hurt, until she decided to bring up all this pain and suffering she caused her children and the community. All these woman claim homelessness. Her family was rich. What? I haven’t seen her in Florida with a sign. Please post the court records so we can read for ourselves. Or at the least, cut and paste where you got the info from the records. My guess is you didn’t READ all of this in the records. My guess is you got it elsewhere. Luckily, everyone that matters knows the real story. Where is this Catherine K’s death certificate? I think maybe Ms. Grazzini has it in her possession in the homeless camp she is living in. Maybe Catherine K. is living there too.

  • This story is truly pathetic. The process must change and incorporate itself to information available now. See the work of Dr Craig Childress! Child and adult abuse does exist. The courts and their players havent a clue.

    • “… Criteria are met for my duty to protect obligations and for my duty to warn obligations – on two separate matters – one involving Drs. Bernet and Lorandos, and a separate matter involving Ms. Gottlieb and Dr. Harman.

      I anticipate that all four of those individuals will likely find themselves at the center of professional controversy. I anticipate Ms. Gottlieb will surrender her license and that Dr. Harman may lose her academic appointment.

      To be clear – the Gardnerian PAS “experts” represent a fringe group of ‘professionals’ who are substantially outside the mainstream of professional psychology. They believe they are smarter and know more than the American Psychiatric Association about diagnosis, and they disregard their ethical obligations as professionals.

      Ms. Gottieb developed a 4-day “intensive” therapy completely of her own devising, unlike any other form of therapy in professional psychology. No 4-day treatments exist for any other pathology – not depression – not anxiety – not ADHD – not Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, not eating disorders, not substance abuse, not trauma… in no other pathology in any field of psychology is there a 4-day “intensive” treatment.

      Ms. Gottlieb took it upon herself to create a 4-day intensive “therapy” of her own devising, something no one else has ever done before… this is her educational background to accomplish this task:

      MSW, Adelphi University of Social Work 1980
      BA, City College of the City of New York 1968

      She graduated city college in 1968, 50 years ago, and she became a social worker forty years ago in 1980.

      That is the entirety of Ms. Gottlieb’s educational background that prepares her to develop a new “intensive” 4-day therapy unlike anything that exists anywhere in any domain of professional psychology …

      … To say that Linda Gottlieb is ethically challenged is clearly evident in her reckless behavior.

      By all indications, the Turning Points program is a ‘bait-and-switch’ on the courts. She seemingly makes promises to the court and parents of a 4-day treatment that requires a 90-day no-contact order from the court toward the other parent.

      By all indications, no change occurs in the child’s rejecting attitudes, beliefs, or opinions in the 4-day “treatment” of Ms. Gottlieb’s devising. By indications, she collects no outcome measures and her “treatment” is entirely unsuccessful in changing anything.

      At the end of the 90-day no-contact period, when no attitude or belief change has occurred from Ms. Gottlieb’s failed “treatment”, she then asks the court for an extension of the 90-day no-contact because there has been no change in the child.

      When there continues to be no change in the attitudes and beliefs at the end of this 90-day no contact period, Ms. Gottlieb then requests another extension of the 90-day no-contact period – that is her “treatment” – the continued extension of the no-contact period with the other parent – because she has no treatment other than that.

      Her “4-day” treatment appears to be a bait-and-switch on the courts and parents to get her foot-in-the-door. Once she’s obtains the court order for no-contact and obtains control of the situation, – she dominates and controls everyone to her will with the threat of extending the no-contact order unless the child submits to Ms. Gottlieb’s will and beliefs.

      By all indications, her grueling 4-hour marathon “therapy” sessions each day with the child would meet criteria for an “invalidating environment” of borderline personality processes (Linehan).

      Ms. Gottlieb is old, misguided, and reckless. Her judgement should not be relied on and her professional practices are unsound. The Turning Points “therapy” of Ms. Gottlieb’s sole devising warrants and will certainly receive additional administrative review …”

  • I cannot believe this article. I personally know this family and almost everything here is a lie. Why don’t you ask the kids what happen? They may have a completely different story. Talk to someone besides the mother before you write this nonsense. She was crazy when we all were kids growing up together and my guess is she still is crazy. Everyone has finally gotten on with their lives and you bring this all up again.

    • Since you grew up with the family, why don’t you recount what happened at Sami’s 13th birthday party? Who exactly was acting crazy and why were the cops called? Was that because of mom or dad?

      • michael
        I will not give any more info. It will be easy to figure out. I do not want to be in this crazy woman’s sights or any of the people that are commenting on this Catherine K case. My guess is I will be bombarded with all kinds on online abuse. You call yourself a journalist, but when writing an investigative article, you need to talk to more than one person involved. That is journalism 101. You can believe this woman all you want, but by not talking to any of the other parties involved you are putting any creditability you had in jeopardy. It is rather funny, basically accusing me of not knowing this family, but of course, this is exactly what I see all these commenters do when anyone disagrees with the Catherine K. fan club. This is my last comment, waste of my time. I just couldn’t help myself after the shock of reading this fabricated story. I saw the photo and thought, not her again. Big surprise her children are out of her life. They are all of age now, if she was the mother of the year she claims, wouldn’t they have run to her “loving” arms after they turned 18? Great job bringing more pain to this family. You should be proud of journalist chops.

        • run into his loving arms”. That is only a possibility in 10 years many things change, now if you want to share quality information that shows another point of view do it otherwise it is difficult to trust your sincerity.

          • Oh boy, I wasn’t gonna even come back and read any comments , but of course I got up too early ,so I thought to look at the FR. I wasn’t gonna comment about this family anymore, but I cannot help myself. In ten years everyone did change, they realized what a liar and manipulator she was. Quality information? My sincerity? What you mean is trust that what I am saying is truthful, sincerity has many meanings. I am not sure which definition of sincerity you mean. I think I did exactly that, I shared “quality” information that shows another point of view. You are free to question my sincerity/quality as you wish. But in all fairness, you need to question all the information in this article. I question what you mean by “quality”. Mr Volpe was maybe very sincere in his article. The problem his quality, he just parroted everything this “long suffering” mother, whose adult kids want nothing to do with her, tells him. The sincerity, quality and truthfulness of her recollections is what everyone needs to question. Her shady retelling is not quality info. My guess is she reached out to FR or Mr. Volpe and dramatically told her tale of woe. As I got older I understand now that she was always an extremely attractive woman, she had, and still probably does have, the power to charm any man to get on his white horse and come to her rescue. It is a noble cause to expose all these so called horrible men who are using the court system to steal their children, but sorry, this one is a fantasy created in someones mind, a someone who caused extreme pain to everyone involved. Including pitting neighbor against neighbor, until the truth came out, at that point, everyone was glad and relieved she was locked up where she couldn’t cause anymore chaos in our community.

          • for. KP in Minnesota shopping at Burnsville Mall
            August 6, 2023 at 5:00 am.

            You keep saying that you know a lot but don’t say anything, why don’t you refute point by point, the whole story of Mr. Volpe, as far as his relationship with his children is now that they are 18, it doesn’t tell us much, as I said in 10 years a lot it changes and a gap may have been created in their relationship due to the distance, this occurs even in situations in which the parents had good relations with their children and the divorce was not so conflictive. Now about whether she is a very attractive woman and can convince a man to believe her, well that is a very suggestive judgment, I want to say she is attractive but not to cloud someone’s reason, also Mr. Volpe mentioned many points that indicate that I investigate the case, you on the other hand do not contribute much.

  • My ex claimed Parental Alienation and it sent my case on a spiral. 5 years after the custody battle had started and 6 months after the final order was put in place my ex admitted in front of the co-parenting counselor last year that they were never alienated and they lied on me about a lot of stuff. My ex finally told the truth because they didn’t even want the custody they got. The whole bit was to break me and because no matter what they did I kept going it pissed them off. Biggest mistake I made in my marriage was marrying someone who told me upfront they weren’t good enough for me. That’s never something to say, “AWWW” to or try to convince someone they are. That is an absolute RED FLAG!

  • I think Michael has done a pretty good job of exposing family court cases. Plenty of vengeful dad’s engaging in limiting and blocking mother’s from having relationships with their children. Especially abusive fathers. There are even organizations blocking stories. Controlling conversation . Thankfully there are people willing to expose these stories.

    • These kids are adults now. Who is preventing them from seeing their mother? How are these organization blocking stories and controlling conversation? I would like to acquire these skills myself. The skills would come in handy.

  • And so salty was the master journalist after being repeatedly bombarded with evidence he was wrong, that he enlisted a third party to troll people and then cherry picked a story trying to discredit PA, knowing full well the tactic is incredibly rare in comparison to Fraudulent DV Orders.

    But hey, whatever sells. Forget tackling the major corruption. Too scary. Too much work. Not enough money. I get it. But the more dead horses getting beaten don’t bring about any changes.

    Neither does denying reality, but hey it is 2023. It is almost impossible to find some reality people deny. I suppose people will just have to deal with the major corruption in family courts.

    Never attacking the source, nevereven seeking a root.
    Cherry picking. How the west was lost.

    • There is true parental alienation but the jury less family court cannot detect the real from the false.

      • Oh Frank, I know you know this. And this reply was definitely not directed at you. So far your postings seem pretty impartial.

  • Thanks for publishing this. I read about it but did not know the outcome.

    The criminalization of parents in family court must end.

    This is a silent epidemic. Thanks to a rare few journalists who care enough for the lives of our children – it’s gaining some traction.

    But it’s exhausting to live and exhausting to investigate! Many thanks to Frank Parlato and Michael Volpe for dedicating their time and efforts to expose child and parental abuse by our own government.

    • exhausting to investigate..what? there is no investigating. there is mr. volpe telling a one sided story.

  • This is what needs to be understood! It’s a set up. An agreement where everyone but the mother and children know exactly what is in store!
    “According to old ‘Woody’s notes, though this order was signed on April 19, 2013, everyone knew at least ten days ahead of time that the custody flip was in store.”

  • I wonder how much money rich girl Sam payed Volpe for this article?

    Readers: Ever notice no one writes about noncustodial moms or dads who don’t have money?

    • Let me know how “rich girl Sam payed for Volpe” when she is homeless and stripped of all means of livelihood by a sadist judicial system and other leeches making a career out of lying about this case for political and personal gain.

      • She came from wealth. Homeless? Have you seen her on the streets with a sign begging for money? My guess is she is living very comfortably in Florida. Just like poor Catherine claiming she was living in her car, then she bought a 900,000 home. You can always tell who is being truthful in these cases, and it is not the one who presents themselves as a victim, victim, victim, victim. They never admit any fault. at all. This is all being done to them. They are always the one that is being harmed. And they NEVER follow the rules of the court. Had they just did what was asked of them, they would still be seeing their children and at the least, have some relationship with them. But that is not their end game. They want to be right and win at all costs, even if it destroys their children.

    • To be fair, Mike does write about both and wrote a story about and did an interview with me. He’s not a horrible person. He’s just having some issues getting past his own stubbornness on the PA issue.

      • PA is as real as gold unicorns. You are annoying. You follow me around on the internet, saying the same nonsense. It’s a vague and nebulous label. It has no meaning. It’s as real as orange unicorns.

        • I follow you around? You sent a troll account person on their real life account to harass victims of PA on twitter after your talking points on the matter were shot down repeatedly by evidence and testimonials. The only thing that is a unicorn is a journalist with the balls to actually attack any corruption rather than one playing gather the fallen fruit from victims and then, just for a laugh, goes after victims because he can’t fathom that he is WRONG, and also because his friend got demonitized for hate speech, called out for deserving it and had no argument in defense except “hate speech doesn’t exist”.

          Grow a sack and grow the fuck up Volpe. Don’t call me any more. We aren’t friends. You are a troubled fellow, but you also attack victims including myself regularly because they disagree with you on the basis of science and facts you don’t like.

          And stop fucking the women you interview. It’s stupid and also pretty scummy.

          • You go Mr Cortesi. I was suspect that Volpe had some “personal” relationship with Mrs. Grazzini. She is an extremely beautiful woman, and manipulative as hell. That would explain everything about his writing this completely untrue article.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083


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