#StandWithSophie: Father WINS full custody of his daughter, 9, who was allegedly sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend
The father of the 9-year-old girl seen begging for help in a viral video has finally won custody of her.
- The father of Sophie, the girl seen screaming for help and claiming she’s been sexually abused in a viral video, has finally won custody of his daughter.
- The custody battle is expected to be fully resolved in November.
Sophie and her two younger brothers are finally safe with their father after he was awarded full custody of his children on Wednesday.
The judge’s decision came after the girl was heard accusing her mother’s fiancé of sexually abusing her. The scene happened while her own grandmother was dragging her out of her father’s car during a custody exchange, Daily Mail reveals.
A video showing the little girl screaming for help went viral and sparked the #StandWithSophie social media campaign. Those who took part in the online movement were urging for Michael Long, Sophie’s dad, to regain custody of his daughter and her siblings.
Luckily, Michael will have his three children with him at least until they await the November trial. Then, his long custody battle with the mother of his children, Kelly, will finally be settled.
While he has the kids with him, Michael plans to enroll them in school in his town of Seguin, Texas. According to his lawyer Jamie L. Graham, this helped the judge’s decision.
Sophie’s father admits he is ‘wracked with guilt’ over the unthinkable abuse she has suffered.
Michael and his wife Kourtney shared in an exclusive interview they couldn’t even sleep knowing that little Sophie is with her mother for fear of what might be happening to her. What is more, Kourtney shares Michael’s youngest son once told her he tries to stay awake until dawn because ‘they get them in the dark’.
They gave the interview prior to the court’s decision.
The couple said they have spent their life savings on the custody battle, which crushed their dream of owning a home. Kourtney said:
“It’s really, really hard. There’s a lot of guilt – you try to think if there was a sign you could have seen sooner if they were trying to tell you in some other way. It felt just awful [to hear what she said] and you feel disgusted all the time, especially with everybody telling you right and left that it shouldn’t be this hard to remove a child from an abusive situation. I just don’t understand why everybody just keeps throwing them back to the wolves.”
Since Michael has been battling for his children’s custody for years, he says: “The legal system failed us miserably.”
He admits he posted the footage of Sophie begging to stay with him because it was the only way he could be heard.
“It’s one of those helpless things – as a parent, you do everything you can do to make sure your child gets the help she needs. I knew the only way to protect Sophie was to record everything.”
He recorded the heartbreaking video on August 14, when he was ordered by a judge to send Sophie for a 48-hour visit with her mother alone.
After losing everything he had in a bid to win full custody of the children, Michael had no other choice but to let his girl ‘speak for herself’ and ‘let the world decide’.
“While nobody wants to be under scrutiny in that way and I certainly don’t want my daughter to be under public scrutiny for something so sensitive, I thought I’d let her speak up for herself rather than be put in this situation again and again.”
Sophie’s stepmom says she told her she had been repeatedly molested by her mother’s boyfriend the girl calls Mr. Jake.
Kourtney was shocked to hear Sophie confessing she felt ‘shooting pains in her private parts’.
After the young victim was tested for sexually transmitted infections and was questioned by professionals about what happened, she now has medical notes that read ‘sexual abuse suspected’.
Both Michael and Kourtney are convinced the alleged abuse has been going on for a long time. Sophie’s stepmom said:
“Sophie has always been full of magic, bubbly and just really carefree. There is a big difference now. She used to feel good about herself all the time and now she feels not beautiful and that’s really hard to see. In private, she talks so badly about herself now because she’s a beautiful young lady and they’ve made her feel ugly. I don’t know if it’s all the things they say to her or things that have been done to her that have made it hard for her to feel comfortable in her own skin. But a lot of that sparkle, the carefree innocence… you can see it fade from her eyes.”
Even though it was hard for Michael to make his girl’s story public, he knew this was the only way his prayers could be heard.
He explains the disturbing scene that went viral across social media and sparked the #StandWithSophie campaign:
“What happened was I unlocked the car, her grandma showed up and it looked like an abduction in the back of my car. Thank God I was filming. But this is the most helpless feeling I’ve ever felt in my life – my daughter was screaming for her life while I was holding a video camera and that’s all I could do. This world is broken if that’s all a father can do to protect his daughter. I’m having to film my daughter getting assaulted in the back of my own vehicle and if I do anything wrong, my parental rights are going to be gone.”
Michael said he hopes the publicity will finally get Sophie’s case taken seriously. He shares he feels nothing but contempt for his daughter’s abusers.
“They completely took her innocence away. But they didn’t take her power away and they didn’t take her will. In terms of how I feel towards them, I hope they pay for what they’ve done. I don’t believe in violence, I don’t believe in death threats but justice needs to be served.”