Elizabeth Smart Wants to Make Sentencing Message of Hope

VIDEO: Sharyn Alfonsi on what Smart may say before Brian David Mitchell goes to jail.
Share
Copy

When Elizabeth Smart speaks at the sentencing this week of the man who kidnapped her from her bedroom nine years ago, her words might be directed to the judge, but she hopes her message will reach others who have gone through ordeals like hers.

At Brian David Mitchell's sentencing, scheduled for Wednesday, Smart will get the final word, telling her tormenter and the judge about the horrors she endured and why no one should ever have to face him again.

But she said she knows she can also serve as an example and an inspiration to others.

"I will be able to reach out and help other children, other survivors speak out about what's happened to them and give them real hope and courage to take a stand," she said.

Smart was the picture of poise throughout the trial, holding her head high while telling a jury of the horrors Mitchell put her through.

But she said she hasn't decided what she will tell the court.

"I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to say yet," she said. "So we'll just see when the time comes."

In June 2002, Mitchell broke into the Smart house in an affluent neighborhood of Salt Lake City and kidnapped the then 14-year-old from the bedroom she shared with her sister.

For the next nine months, Mitchell, a self-proclaimed prophet, and his accomplice, Wanda Barzee, held her captive. He claimed she had become his wife and repeatedly sexually assaulted her.

In March 2003, two women in Sandy, Utah -- just miles from Smart's home -- called police when they saw a man who they thought looked like Mitchell, whose face they knew from the extensive coverage of the girl's story.

The man was walking with a woman and a girl, all carrying rolled sleeping bags.

When police tracked the trio down, they thought the girl looked like Smart, and took them into custody.

It took years for the case to finally go to trial, because of questions over Mitchell's mental health.

When it finally began last year, the trial spanned five grueling weeks, during which Smart took the stand to describe in frank language what happened during her nine-month captivity.

During the three days Smart spent on the stand, she gave excruciating personal testimony that painted Mitchell as a cruel religious zealot obsessed with sex.

Speaking in a controlled voice, her words tinged with anger, Smart called Mitchell selfish and a "hypocrite" who raped her at every chance he got even while proclaiming himself to be God's servant.

Smart told the jury that Mitchell talked to her during her captivity about what would happen if police found them.

"He knew he would go to prison. But then he also said that I ... and the other wives ... would come and testify in his behalf," Smart testified. "And he said that he would be released and he would be killed and lie dead in the street for three days and then he would be resurrected and he would go on to fight the Anti-Christ."

She also spoke of being forced to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana, which disgusted her.

Smart has said she was forced to "marry" Mitchell in an impromptu ceremony shortly after the kidnapping and that he would often beg her for sex, angering Barzee, who was jealous of the attention Mitchell gave Smart.

"This woman has spent the last eight years of her life being traumatized and then working through the healing process," clinical psychologist Wendy Walsh said. "It's time to end it."

She's now 23, a strong vibrant young woman -- evidence of the rock-solid spirit that kept her alive.

She just completed a mormon missionary trip in Paris where shared her story of survival, but since her return said she hasn't decided what her next step will be.

"Wherever I feel like I can do the most good, then that will be -- that's my main focus," Smart said.

ABC News' Emily Friedman contributed to this report.

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Oscar de la Renta and Oprah Winfrey attend the Costume Institute Gala Benefit to celebrate the opening of the American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, May 8, 2010, in New York City.
Rabbani and Solimene Photography/WireImage/Getty Images
PHOTO: Up in Ash: Mount Sinabung Erupting
Tibt Nangin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
PHOTO: Firefighters rescue a woman who got stuck in a chimney in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Ventura County Fire Department
PHOTO: Apple Pay is demonstrated at Apple headquarters on Oct. 16, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo