Elizabeth Smart Confronts Her Tormentor in Utah Sentencing

PHOTO: Elizabeth Smart confronted her abductor before he was sentenced to life in prison.
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Elizabeth Smart confronted her abductor and told him "in this life or next you will have to be held responsible" before he was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping her at age 14, raping her and holding her captive.

"I know that you know what you did was wrong," a stoical Smart, now 23, told her tormentor, Brian David Mitchell, 57, who was singing during the sentencing.

But she told him, "I have a wonderful life now."

Smart was only yards away from Mitchell, a homeless street preacher, who was found guilty in December of kidnapping and transportation of a minor across state lines to engage in sexual activity.

"I don't have very much to say to you," she said. "I know exactly what you did. I know that you know what you did was wrong. You did it with a full knowledge. I also want you to know that I have a wonderful life now, that no matter what you do will it affect me again. You took away nine months of my life that can never be returned, but in this life or next, you will have to be held responsible for those actions, and I hope you are ready for when that time comes."

Elizabeth's father, Ed Smart, also addressed Mitchell, saying, "Your perversion and exploitation of religion is not a defense. It is disgusting and it is an abuse that anyone should despise. Regardless of what the defense has proposed, you put Elizabeth through nine months of psychological hell."

"I am so thrilled with the results that came out today, I could not be happier," said Elizabeth Smart after the sentencing. "Not only am I happy that I had this result, but today is as my dad said is National Missing Children's Day."

Smart said she was appreciative of the opportunity to confront Mitchell and that nothing would have kept her from doing so.

"There was not a feeling of nervousness or fear that could have prevented me from saying what I felt I needed to say," she said. "Today is the ending of a very long chapter and the beginning of a very beautiful chapter for me."

Smart was taken at knifepoint from her bed in the middle of the night on June 5, 2002, while her sister slept. During the trial, she told the court that Mitchell held a knife to her throat, took her to an encampment near Salt Lake City, pronounced her his wife, and raped her.

During the "nine months of hell," she testified, he raped her repeatedly, forced her to view pornography, drink alcohol and watch sexual activity between his wife, Wanda Barzee, and himself.

"I felt like because [of] what he had done to me that I was marked, that I wasn't clean, wasn't pure, wasn't worth the same," she testified. "I felt like another person would never love me."

Smart called Mitchell selfish and a "hypocrite" who raped her at every chance he got even while proclaiming himself to be God's servant. When she testified, Smart did not confront her captor because he was removed from court every day for singing outbursts.

After a nine-month search that attracted extensive national coverage, Smart was rescued in 2003 when she was walking in a suburb of Salt Lake City with Mitchell and Barzee. Barzee, 65, was sentenced last May to 15 years after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

Smart came home to Salt Lake City two weeks ago after living in France as a Mormon missionary. She is entering her final year at Brigham Young University.

Mitchell's lawyers have said that he is mentally ill and delusional. Barzee testified that he believed he needed to take seven wives as part of a crusade to restore the Mormon church to polygamy.

Prosecutors had argued in sentencing papers that a life sentence is needed to protect society. "The defendant is a pedophile who has victimized not only Ms. Smart, but other children as well," the documents state. "This defendant cannot be released back into society."

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