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Sophie Long’s father says he’s he would ‘absolutely go to jail to protect her’

An arrest warrant has been issued for Sophie Long’s father a month after he went on the run with her when he was ordered to hand her to her maternal aunt, DailyMail.com can reveal.

Michael Long, 43, was due to show up at a court in McKinney, Texas, on Wednesday for a hearing over a motion that could send him to jail for almost three years.

But Long told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview that took place the day before the warrant was issued, the only way he will return to court and bring his daughter home is if he is allowed to put his case before a jury.

The motion, which was brought by his ex-wife Kelly Long, opposes the jury trial and is asking for Long to be summarily jailed for 18 months plus an extra year on one count of hiding Sophie and one of failing to hand her over.

Kelly, 36, is also asking for Long to be placed on probation for 10 years and for him to be held on a $20,000 bond, as well as being forced to cover her legal costs.

Long has been ‘laying low’ with Sophie, 10, since July 7 after he was told to hand her to her aunt in North Carolina and banned from speaking to his daughter for 90 days.

He brought Sophie to the meeting with DailyMail.com which took place at a neutral location. 

The 10-year-old appeared happy and at ease with her father, and was keen to tell DailyMail.com about the A grades she received at school and her favorite classes, including English and art.

Michael Long spoke to DailyMail.com after going on the run with daughter Sophie last month. The Texas dad took off with the ten-year-old on after he was ordered to hand her over to her maternal aunt. Long brought Sophie to the meeting with DailyMail.com which took place at a neutral location

A warrant was issued for Long's arrest on Thursday after he failed to show up to a court hearing Wednesday over a motion brought by his ex-wife and Sophie's mom Kelly that could lead to him being jailed for almost three years

A warrant was issued for Long’s arrest on Thursday after he failed to show up to a court hearing Wednesday over a motion brought by his ex-wife and Sophie’s mom Kelly that could lead to him being jailed for almost three years

Long was ordered last month to pay $20,000 to cover the cost of reunification therapy for the Sophie and her mother, as well as therapy for her two brothers, his sons. 

‘I’d absolutely go to jail to protect Sophie. I’d do anything for her. She’s a 10-year-old child,’ he told DailyMail.com. 

‘She shouldn’t have to be dealing with this stuff. These high conflict custody cases – this wasn’t about getting into a custody case. This was about getting justice for my daughter.

‘It turned into that because the system didn’t take action as they promised they would. People like to say this is a vendetta against my ex. No, it’s not.

‘This is about a little girl who made an outcry and has a diagnosis and has not gotten justice. There’s no way I’m going to turn my back on her now.’

Sophie’s story shot to prominence last August after a video showing her screaming and crying during a custody handover went viral.

According to her father, Sophie claims she was sexually abused by her mother’s fiancé Jacob Bellington and was diagnosed with a vaginal infection after being taken to the hospital last summer.

She was also interviewed by a specialist nurse with her father outside the room and repeated the claims to her, according to records seen by DailyMail.com. 

Following her claims, The Frisco Police Department in Texas opened an investigation into the case, while Long was awarded temporary custody of Sophie and her two brothers.  

Sophie Long is the child that sparked the #StandWithSophie online campaign last year after she was filmed in a viral video screaming for help at a custody handover on August 14. She is pictured above with her father last year

Long insisted his actions aren't motivated by a 'personal vendetta' against his ex-wife, but by his desire to get justice for his daughter

Long insists his actions aren’t motivated by a ‘personal vendetta’ against his ex-wife, but by his desire to get justice for his daughter 

Long took off with Sophie, who was last seen at home in Seguin, Texas, on July 12. Police described the case as a 'family abduction' and believed the two were headed to Arizona or Mexico

Long took off with Sophie, who was last seen at home in Seguin, Texas, on July 12. Police described the case as a ‘family abduction’ and believed the two were headed to Arizona or Mexico

He revealed he wasn't allowed to testify during a hearing in May, but his estranged wife Kourtney Chalmers (pictured) was called to the stand

He revealed he wasn’t allowed to testify during a hearing in May, but his estranged wife Kourtney Chalmers (pictured) was called to the stand

But he says the story took a darker turn following a hearing in December when the court-appointed guardian-ad-litem and amicus attorney argued that both boys should be returned to their mother after they began exhibiting behavioral problems.

He says both have since been exposed to Bellington and that no arrangements for visitation with him have been put in place since the original order expired in April.

Bellington has denied the allegations, accusing Long of ‘jealousy’ and ‘ripping’ his family apart. 

Attorneys for Kelly Long also claimed last year that the ‘unfounded’ claims were part of Michael’s ‘personal vendetta against his ex-wife.’ 

Frisco PD would later release a statement in late August confirming Sophie was ‘safe and staying at a safe location.’ 

Long says that since the end of April, he has been allowed a handful of FaceTime calls with his sons but said that even these have now petered out.

Sophie, meanwhile, was ordered to be sent to live with her maternal aunt following a hearing in May during which he says he was not allowed to testify, while his estranged wife Kourtney Chalmers – who Long believes is working with ex-wife Kelly – was called to the stand.

When the order for her removal was finally handed down in July, he says he felt ‘numb’ but quickly decided he needed to get out of town to ‘buy time’.

He told DailyMail.com: ‘I sat there, everybody started scrambling in the background trying to find her and pick her up. And I thought through it. This is a civil matter.

‘This isn’t a criminal matter, it isn’t oh, he’s going to jail if we find him kind of thing. It’s a time period. And I knew the only thing to do next was to file an appeal and to do it quickly.

‘But you need time to do that. Within days of the hearing, there’s a missing poster floating about. No, she’s with me and we’re laying low until the next step.

Kelly Long, 36, filed a motion demanding Long to be summarily jailed for 18 months for taking their daughter

Kelly Long, 36, filed a motion demanding Long to be summarily jailed for 18 months for taking their daughter 

‘That was a motion to stay and a writ of mandamus that was denied. Between that denial and now, they called for a court hearing on August 4 where they wanted to put down an order on the motion decided on July 7.

‘But they also want to put me in jail for two and a half years and they want to put me on probation for 10 years.

‘All through this situation, I’m just a father trying to protect my child – that’s all there is to it. At the end of the day, I will do anything I can to make sure Sophie gets justice.

‘This is my little girl. What would any other parent do in this situation? Especially when the documentation I have proves what happened.’

Long claims he has not abducted his daughter and took off because he is fearful of what would happen to Sophie if she was returned to her mom’s family.

Sophie, he says, is doing well and achieved top marks in her end of year results. 

He said: ‘She’s awesome. Sophie’s brave. She’s really into architecture at the moment so she’s been spending some time learning about those principles. Swimming.’

He added: ‘We are blessed to have wonderful friends in this world, people who are willing to give us a soft place to land.

‘So, we’re comfortable, she’s happy. It’s summer. I’m trying to keep things as normal as possible in her life. I don’t want her to feel the stress I go through.

‘At the end of the day, this is about her. It’s about my boys too but I can only deal with what I have control over and at this point, it’s my daughter and making sure she has her voice heard.’

The 43-year-old, who now has a warrant out for his arrest, said he was willing to go to jail to protect his 10-year-old daughter, who he claims was sexually abused by her mother's fiance. The 10-year-old appeared happy and at ease with her father, and was keen to tell DailyMail.com about the A grades she received at school and her favorite classes, including English and art

The 43-year-old, who now has a warrant out for his arrest, said he was willing to go to jail to protect his 10-year-old daughter, who he claims was sexually abused by her mother’s fiance. The 10-year-old appeared happy and at ease with her father, and was keen to tell DailyMail.com about the A grades she received at school and her favorite classes, including English and art

Kelly's motion opposes Michael's request for a jury trial and also requests he be held on a $20,000 bond and pay for her legal costs

Kelly’s motion opposes Michael’s request for a jury trial and also requests he be held on a $20,000 bond and pay for her legal costs

Kelly was seen in the now-viral video attempting to pull daughter Sophie out of the car during a custody exchange in August last year

Kelly was seen in the now-viral video attempting to pull daughter Sophie out of the car during a custody exchange in August last year

Long is now waiting for a decision on the jury trial but says he believes the family court system has let down both Sophie and her brothers.

He said: ‘I feel like the police have let her down. I feel like the court system has let her down. I feel like DFPS have let her down and that applies to my boys too.

‘Sophie wasn’t the only who was living through that situation. There was domestic violence in that home.’

Long added: ‘I feel jaded by [the process]. That’s not how this country should be. We are smart enough to do this better.

‘We need courts that are transparent. Open courts serve a purpose in this country. That’s not happening in family courts and you have to ask yourself why?

‘I know the privacy argument is made but what about the other side? That’s when corruption will happen.

‘We have to demand transparency and ultimately we need to agree to federal oversight over family court.’

Of his next steps, he said: ‘I want a jury trial. You want to put me in jail for two and a half years for defending my daughter? Do it.

‘But you’re going to have to do it in front of my peers. That’s the rules. I have a right to a jury trial, and I want it.’ 


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