"Elizabeth coming home and being able to move forward like she has, it's amazing how resilient they are. I just hope that other victims out there get the message that the only way you stop the predator is by standing up and taking pride in yourself," Ed Smart said.
Brian David Mitchell was convicted last Friday of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart eight years ago and subjecting her to nine months of sexual and mental torture that included repeated rapes, forced consumption of drugs and frequent threats to kill her.
"The most important thing that came out of Friday is no other child is going to be hurt by Brian Mitchell. As I sat there listening to the legacy that he left behind, his children, the people that he touched…he left nothing, nothing for the world," Ed Smart said.
It was Ed Smart's determination, through nine months of hell, that helped bring Elizabeth home. Many gave up hope, but Ed Smart relentlessly kept Elizabeth's face and name in the news. Hearing Elizabeth recount the horror of her ordeal was difficult for the Smart family.
During her three days of testimony last month, Elizabeth answered the most intimate and embarrassing questions about her abduction. She offered excruciating details about constant sexual abuse and how Mitchell forced her to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana at the age of 14. She painted Mitchell as a cruel religious zealot obsessed with sex.
"I felt like she was saying, 'Dad, there was a point where I just felt worthless. I mean he [Mitchell] was just taking everything I felt was sacred away from me and I felt worthless. But then she said at one point I determined…I have worth, my family loves me and I'm going to do whatever it takes to survive," Ed Smart said.
At the end of the grueling five week trial, the Smart family felt optimistic that there would be a guilty verdict.
"The night before when we heard final arguments and the closing, we just thought how can they determine anything else but guilty and…when we heard that the verdict was in…we were in smiles," Ed Smart said. "We just thought the system works and people are not going to get away with what they try to do."
Smart, 23, grinned as she heard the guilty verdict, showing the world she is not just a survivor, she is an inspiration.
"Today is a wonderful day and I am so thrilled to be here, I am so thrilled with the verdict, but not only that but I am so thrilled to stand before the people of America today and give hope to other victims," Elizabeth Smart said the day of the verdict. "It is possible to move on after something terrible has happened, and that we can speak out and we will be heard."
Earlier in the day, Smart's lawyers expressed their happiness with the jury's decision and said the case hinged on Smart's brave testimony.
"The beginning and end of this story is attributable to a woman with extraordinary courage and extraordinary determination and that's Elizabeth Smart," said Carlie Christensen, U.S. attorney for Utah. "That young woman had the ability and willingness to recall the graphic details of the nine month captivity."