Joseph Reyes, the father who took his daughter to a Chicago church in defiance of a judge's restraining order pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Tuesday. He could face criminal charges and up to six months in jail.
Rebecca Shapiro, Reyes' estranged wife, filed a temporary restraining order against Reyes after he had their 3-year-old daughter Ela baptized in the Catholic church without her knowledge. In what some are calling an extraordinary court order, a family court judge imposed a 30-day restraining order forbidding Joseph from "exposing his daughter to any other religion other than the Jewish religion during his visitation."
With local media crews in tow, Reyes violated this 30-day court order and took his daughter Ela to church again. Shapiro asked for Reyes to be held in contempt of court, stating that his actions posed "harm" to their child.
Days before the ruling, Reyes sat down with "20/20" anchor and chief Law & Justice correspondent Chris Cuomo for a compelling interview.
Part of that interview aired Feb. 16 on "Good Morning America." The full transcript of Chris Cuomo and Joseph Reyes' interview, along with statements from Rebecca Shapiro's attorney, Steven Lake, are below:
This transcript has been edited for clarity.
CUOMO: Ok, so at the—yes, this is what's going on with you and your estranged wife, but the motivation for you here is your daughter, you say, right?
REYES: That's correct.
CUOMO: What does your daughter mean to you?
REYES: Everything. She is the nucleus of everything I do.
CUOMO: And what is your motivation where your daughter's involved in this situation?
REYES: I, for one, want to be an important part of her life, and I want to give her as great as a father as I can possibly be to her. And the second part of it, as goes the facts in this situation, I don't want her to grow up into a world where her fundamental rights are threatened or weakened by court decisions.
CUOMO: Fair criticism that this is not about what you want for your daughter, this is what you want to do to your ex-wife because you two are so mad at each other in a hostile, legal battle?
REYES: No, that's not my motivation at all. For one, I'm not really that angry with Rebecca. I think that some of her decisions are questionable, some of her motivations are questionable, but my motivations are on my daughter. So, to be angry at my wife and to somehow direct my actions at that, takes away from the important thing in this issue, and that's my daughter.
CUOMO: When you two were married, you're daughter was being raised Jewish. True or false?
REYES: That is false.
CUOMO: Because that's what we're lead to believe, right? That she went to a Jewish pre-school or something like that and that you and your wife had agreed that she'd be Jewish?
REYES: I had nothing to do with the decision for her to go to a Jewish pre-school. That was done after we were already in litigation.
CUOMO: And when you two were together, what was the religious decision-making?