Exclusive: Elizabeth Smart Champions New Sex Offender Registry Bill

ByABC News via logo
July 18, 2006, 8:06 AM

July 18, 2006 — -- Elizabeth Smart does not want others to experience the ordeal she endured when she was kidnapped in 2002.

That is why she is championing a national sex offender registry bill that the House and Senate may vote on today.

"It [the kidnapping] did happen, and I don't want it to happen to anyone else," the 18-year-old said. "This bill should go through without a thought."

The proposed bill would make it a crime for sex offenders not to register with their state and would require states to share information when an offender moved to a new state.

It passed the House on a voice vote in March and has broad support, but has been delayed because Democratic members say it should include hate crimes legislation opposed by Republican leaders.

Smart was 14 when she was abducted from the bedroom of her Salt Lake City home in June 2002, sparking a media frenzy that lasted for almost a year.

Her parents pleaded for her safe return in numerous appearances on national TV.

Smart was found nine months later in March 2003 with Wanda Barzee and Brian David Mitchell, a drifter who called himself "Emmanuel" and had once done work at Smart's home.

Barzee and Mitchell await trial on kidnapping, sexual assault, burglary and conspiracy to commit kidnapping charges. Both have been repeatedly declared mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Though the shadow of her abduction continues to follow her, she said she was doing well and wanted to move ahead with her life.

Her terrible ordeal has inspired her father to keep pushing for reforms.

"This [national sex offender registry bill] is something that is so important for everyone in the nation -- creating responsibility for sex offenders out there who would try to harm our children," Ed Smart said to ABC News.

"That's what this bill is all about, and it's exciting to see all of the people that have been involved."

If approved, the new sex offender registry would replace the state-by-state system now in place.

Under current law, offenders usually report once a year. Failure to report is a misdemeanor.