- (Photo: Reuters/Michael Brandy)
Elizabeth Smart, kidnapped and held captive by homeless “street pastor” Brian Mitchell, has taken up a job as an ABC news contributor.
On June 5, 2002, 14 year old Smart was kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah. For 8 months, she was held captive by a deranged man and his wife in which time she was raped repeatedly. Smart’s family persistently kept her name in the press, and massive searches as well as intense media coverage finally paid off. Nine months after her abduction, an America’s Most Wanted audience member was able to recognize Smart disguised in a gray wig from the show, and immediately notified authorities.
Her captors, former “street preacher” Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ilene Barzee, were indicted for the kidnapping, and Mitchell’s life sentence in federal prison commenced May 25, 2011.
Smart and her family have appeared on Dateline NBC and interviewed by Katie Couric as well as The Oprah Winfrey Show. The ordeal was made into a CBS TV movie, The Elizabeth Smart Story, as well as a book.
Now 23, Smart’s captivating story has led her to prominently lead the fight as an activist for more extensive missing person’s legislation in the U.S.
A music student from Brigham Young University, Smart has made a full recovery from her traumatic past, and ABC has been talking with her about a correspondent job for months.
"She'll be available to all programs and platforms across the news division," says ABC News spokeswoman Julie Townshend.
"She'll help our viewers better understand missing person stories from someone with the perspective to know what a family experiences when a loved one goes missing."
She will make her first appearance as a contributor in the next two weeks, but interestingly she will not be appearing on the 2-hour special the network is doing on another kidnap victim, Jaycee Dugard.
Dugard was held captive for over 18 years, and bore 2 daughters by her captor.