'That little girl was never sexually assaulted in our city’: Local police chief clarifies #StandwithSophie case

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 11:22 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2020 at 10:33 AM CDT
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LACY LAKEVIEW, Texas (KWTX) - A Central Texas police department is setting the record straight about a complex child custody case that’s garnered global attention.

While there is a local connection to the case of Sophie Long, a 9-year-old Texas girl whose story has ignited a heated movement against child sexual abuse, she is not from, nor did the alleged abuse happen, locally.

“It didn’t happen in our jurisdiction,” said Lacy Lakeview Police Chief John Truehitt. “That little girl was never sexually assaulted in our city.”

Truehitt, who says he and his officers have been getting death threats over this case, says they’re ‘stuck in the middle’ of this because, literally, they’re located in the middle of the mother and father.

“That’s why they met here,” said Truehitt. “We just happen to be in between Frisco and Seguin.”

Since Michael Long lives in Seguin and his ex-wife Kelly lives in Frisco, they would meet in the middle to exchange their children--Sophie and her two brothers.

During the exchange in the Starbucks parking lot on Aug. 18, about a month after Frisco PD opened an investigation into outcries of sexual abuse Sophie alleges happened in her mother’s care, Lacy Lakeview PD was called to the scene.

“When we arrived at the dispute, there was no dispute,” said Truehitt. “The officers spoke with the mother, they spoke with the father and the child; the child indicated she was ‘ok’, the child left with her father, and everything was peaceful.”

However, Mr. Long contacted LLPD three days later saying his daughter was injured during the exchange when his former mother-in-law was trying to remove Sophie from his vehicle.

“The allegations of sexual abuse, the officers determined on the scene and later confirmed that all of those occurred in Frisco and are being addressed and investigated by the Frisco Police Department,” said Truehitt. “Our only involvement in this matter is those allegations that the child was injured.”

And Truehitt says they are taking those allegations seriously.

He says, after taking the father’s report, they did a welfare check on Sophie and opened an injury to a child investigation.

Truehitt would not comment on the investigation since it is still an active case and involves a juvenile, however, he says once it’s completed it will be handed over to the McLennan County District Attorney for potential prosecution.

The corporal who took the phone call with Mr. Long has also been placed on administrative leave, he said.

“The phone call--it sounds like he’s not pursuing the criminal act, which is not correct,” said Truehitt. “Very often in child custody disputes, one party is trying to use that (a police report) as leverage against the other party--that’s not for us to decide.”

Truehitt said the phone call and his corporal’s actions during the call, part of which was leaked online, is under internal review.

“The call was less than desirable, I can assure you some training is going to be done in that regard, this is being reviewed right now,” said Truehitt. “We’re determining whether any disciplinary action will be taken, criminal action, or any additional training that needs to be done.”

Frisco PD has released a statement about Sophies case which reads:

“The Frisco Police Department is aware of information circulating on social media related to the welfare of a child. This is an active case currently under investigation by our Criminal Investigations Division. We certainly appreciate the passion and concern expressed by everyone on social media and consider protecting the children in our community as one of our greatest responsibilities. However, because it is an active case, we cannot provide any other comment.”

Waco PD also got tangled in the web and released a statement Aug. 31 saying the allegations didn’t happen in Waco, either.

“This morning we have received a large number of phone calls and messages related to a viral video and hashtag that ha been going around. #StandwithSofie is not a Waco PD case and is out of our jurisdictional boundaries. In terms of the investigation, the appropriate agency is aware and has already begun investigating the circumstances seen in the videos. Thank you all for the concern and let’s have a wonderful Monday afternoon.”

Feeling helpless early on about his daughter’s original outcry, Mr. Long took to social media and posted videos and audio recordings of the custody exchanges and encounters with police and state agencies to garner support in his battle for custody of Sophie and her siblings.

Truehitt says one or more of those videos give the impression that the alleged sexual abuse happened in Lacy Lakeview, and none of it did, he said.

“The perception of the video I saw gives the impression that this little girl was sexually assaulted in Lacy Lakeview and that we’re not taking any action on that, and that’s the furthest from the truth,” said Truehitt.

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