Reports that present accounts of sexual abuse and sexual assault are disturbing and disheartening. As gross as such misconduct already is, it is bone-chilling to even imagine such acts being directed towards children, and yet it’s a sad truth that such instances do manifest themselves into reality. One such case was that of 9-year-old Sophie Long, which although being seemingly resolved, has blown up on social media recently for specific reasons. Read on to know more.
The case of Sophie Long came to light when on September 2, 2020, a video of the 9-year-old girl surfaced online, in which she refused to return home with her mother and to-be-stepfather, and insisted on remaining with her biological father, Michael Long. The reason for this non-compliance was due to the fact that Sophie was allegedly a victim of sexual assault at the hands of her mother’s fiance and a few of his friends.
The video gained widespread attention on social media, and viewers began to display their support towards the girl by trending with the hashtag #StandwithSophie. Resultantly, on September 5, the Frisco Court passed a verdict permitting her to stay with Michael until November, but within 4 days post this verdict, he was granted full custody of her and her two brothers. Facts on whether or not this settlement was permanent or temporary, however, were still hazy.
While the Sophie Long case seemed to have met its happy ending, revelations that surfaced recently have raised multiple concerns. A few days ago, Kourtney Chalmers, Michael’s wife from whom he is seemingly separating, posted an update via which she relayed information relating to Sophie Long’s disappearance.
Based on the information posted by Kourtney, Michael was ordered by the court to hand over the custody of Sophie to another undisclosed family member on July 7, 2021, for undisclosed reasons. Soon after the order was issued, Michael and Sophie were nowhere to be found. Michael is believed to be on the run, having taken Sophie along with him as well.
Sophie has been missing ever since, with no one having any knowledge of either her or Michael’s whereabouts. Jeanie Long, Kourtney’s mother-in-law, was under questioning by law enforcement officials as well. However, she claimed to have zero knowledge regarding the whereabouts of Michael and Sophie. Kourtney claims this to be a matter of concern as Michael displayed unfavorable results in a psychological evaluation, potentially putting Sophie at risk.
Through the same post which was aforementioned, Kourtney urged people to maintain discretion if they possess any relevant information on the case and to relay such information solely to the concerned law enforcement officials. She also requested people to not contaminate the reality of the case with any baseless speculations lest the case gets complicated further.
What Caused the Custody Battle, and how it Impacted Sophie
Michael Long and his ex-wife, Kelly, also Sophie Long’s biological mother, separated a few years ago for reasons that did not reach the public eye. Post their separation, they were stated to live around 200 miles apart and had split custody over Sophie in July 2015. All of this changed when Kelly decided to move to the city of Frisco in Texas and was thereby granted full custody of her daughter.
This set off a chain of interactions between Sophie and Michael, mostly through handwritten letters, wherein she explained how much she missed him, and also hinted at facing some sort of oppression at the hands of Kelly’s then-boyfriend, whom Sophie referred to as ‘Mr. Jake’. The Daily Mail was able to obtain some of these letters, which also included codewords for phone conversations such as ‘daisy’ or ‘dandelions’ (spelled danilions by Sophie) for when she would seemingly be in danger.
Another letter saw Sophie telling her dad how her iPad was taken away by ‘Mr. Jake’ for an entire week just due to the sole reason that she wouldn’t stop crying.
Michael addressed the reason for Kelly’s custody over their daughter, stating that it was only because she hired a lawyer and he didn’t. With help and motivation from Kourtney Chalmers in 2016, his then-girlfriend, he began battling for shared custody. They ended up facing multiple legal obstacles on the way, and have even said that they exhausted most of their life savings in this custody battle, having to give up their dream of owning a home.
Michael also said that he recorded the video which went viral after all other avenues for justice had failed him. It was a last resort of sorts to him, and although he didn’t want to publicize such a sensitive issue which victimized his daughter, he felt that letting Sophie speak up for herself and garnering community and world support on the matter was his last ray of hope.
The Mental Toll on Sophie
The alleged sexual abuse took a severe toll on Sophie’s self-esteem and confidence. Kourtney claims that prior to 2017, Sophie was a girl who was constantly lively and carefree. The constant abuse seemingly reduced Sophie to a much more dreadful and subdued version of her former self. Kourtney said that Sophie used to constantly feel good about herself, but over the past few years has lost all sense of assurance in her beauty, and speaks negatively of herself when in private.
The ‘#StandwithSophie’ GoFundMe Campaign
A fundraising campaign was started by Kourtney Chalmers on GoFundMe, an American crowdfunding platform, in order to raise money to cover the legal fees of the custody battle. After raising an approximation of $200,000, however, due to concerns of Michael’s claims being fraudulent, the campaign page was frozen and further donations were stopped. The details surrounding the claims of fraudulency on Michael’s end are highlighted in the subsequent section.
The Other Side of the Story
While this case is heart-wrenching and most people’s sympathies habitually extend to Sophie Long and her father, certain experts believe Michael’s claims to fraudulent. They say that Michael Long has painted a falsified picture on social media, as many medical professionals after multiple examinations have reported no signs of any sexual abuse directed towards Sophie. Sophie has also never addressed any such instances when being examined by forensic psychologists.
Michael has also reportedly directed false allegations towards Kelly in the past, specifically in the years 2016 and 2017. All of this has led some people and experts to believe that Michael may have coached Sophie to speak against her mother, by leveraging the parental alienation tactic, wherein the child is manipulated to turn against the other parent. The recent disappearance of Michael along with Sophie, as well as the reports of his unfavorable psychological evaluation, do not help his case either.
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