Kidnapping and Rape Survivor Elizabeth Smart Says She Was Sexually Assaulted Last Summer

Kidnapping and rape survivor Elizabeth Smart, 32, said Thursday when discussing a self-defense initiative that she was sexually assaulted by a man on a plane last summer.

In an interview with CBS This Morning, Smart said that while she was on a Delta flight to Salt Lake City, Utah, she felt an unidentified man’s hand “rubbing in between my legs, on my inner thigh.”

“I was shocked. The last time someone touched me without my say-so was when I was kidnapped,” she said, adding that she “froze” and “did not know what to do.” According to Smart, the man did not apologize or explain himself when confronted, but she says she reported this to Delta and that Delta reported it, in turn, to the FBI. Delta acknowledged in a statement that it “took the matter seriously and has continued to cooperate with Ms. Smart and the appropriate authorities as the matter is investigated.”

Smart was kidnapped at knifepoint by Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee when she was just 14 years old. That was in 2002. She was held captive for nine months before she was saved.

Smart has said that Mitchell raped her repeatedly and that Barzee watched. She even said Barzee laughed as much as Mitchell did “if not more” when she woke up in her own vomit one morning. Smart had been forced to drink alcohol until the point where she passed out and threw up.

Barzee was controversially released from prison earlier than expected in Sept. 2018.

Smart has said that she knew Barzee was “dark” and “evil” at first sight.

“I don’t know, just the feeling that kind of radiated from her. It just was dark. And it was evil. And I just knew that she — she wasn’t there to help me, that she wasn’t there to protect me,” she said. “She would encourage him to rape me. She would sit right next to me. Like, the side of her body would be touching me […] While he was raping me. I mean, she was right there.”

These days, Smart is a child safety advocate, wife, and mother of three. She has also offered advice to other kidnapping victims on how to move forward after going through the most traumatic experiences of their lives.

[Image via CBS This Morning screengrab]

Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.

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