Elizabeth Smart is undoubtedly a role model for victim recovery. Thanks to a loving family and the support of a strong religious community, she has taken effective control of the memory of her ordeal. While the psychological scars undoubtedly remain, the poison is being leached out. It should be noted that many victims do not have the comprehensive support system available to Elizabeth Smart, so recovery in such cases can be delayed or even never achieved. Thus it is wise to avoid premature criticism of victims who do not instantly "snap out" of victimhood.
On October 1st 2009, Elizabeth Smart got the opportunity to leach out even more of the poison when she testified at the competency hearing of her former kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell, in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. On two previous occasions, Mitchell was found incompetent to stand trial in the state court system, but in 2008, the U.S. Attorney's Office began a case against Mitchell and his actual wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee. Subsequently, a federal grand jury issued an indictment charging Mitchell and Barzee with kidnapping and coercion of a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity for allegedly taking Smart across state lines from Utah to California. They face up to life in prison if convicted on the kidnapping charge.
The Salt Lake Tribune has posted an unofficial written transcript of the hearing HERE, for now. They got into trouble with the judge over it, so don't be surprised if they pull it down. However, KSTU has now posted a 72-page official copy of a written transcript HERE.
Other media stories published by the Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News, KSTU Channel 13 with reports HERE and HERE, and KSL Channel 5. KSL news video with multiple viewing options embedded below:
Until today, relatively few details had emerged regarding the specifics of the ordeal endured by Elizabeth Smart during her nine months captivity at the hands on Brian David Mitchell, which began when Mitchell kidnapped her from the bedroom of her Federal Heights home in the middle of the night on June 5th, 2002, when she was 14. This despite the fact that there have been two books, a television movie and interviews with Oprah, Katie Couric and Larry King.
But on October 1st, she virtually bore her soul in the courtroom. To summarize the different accounts posted by the various media sources, Mitchell broke into her home, held a knife to her throat, forced her to get dressed, and then took her to a camping area in the mountains just three miles away. Upon arrival, she met Mitchell's wife, Barzee, who then prepared Smart for a "marriage ceremony". Following the ceremony, Mitchell raped her, and continued to do so on a daily basis, sometimes as often as four times daily. He made her drink alcohol, showed her pornography and used extremely crude language at different times before raping her, telling her "I'm going to (expletive) your eyes out".
To avoid the harsh Utah winter, the three went to San Diego. Smart then described how Mitchell worked to manipulate people, including a clerk at a Wild Oats grocery store who gave him free food and an LDS family that Mitchell dined with. She said Mitchell planned to kidnap yet another wife from an LDS family he met at church and had dinner with in San Diego, but those plans didn't progress when Mitchell saw a man through the window of the family's home when he went to kidnap their teenage daughter. Mitchell also boasted of his previous sexual exploits with women. He admitted to wanting two women in his past named Julie and Kelly to become plural wives. He also told Smart he had molested children in his previous marriages.
Smart also suggested that Mitchell might be "crazy like a fox". She said she observed Mitchell singing hymns often, a tactic he has used during court appearances, which has resulted in judges removing him from the courtroom. Smart testified she believes Mitchell uses singing to manipulate situations. She said Mitchell told her he was "God's voice on Earth" and that he would "one day fight the anti-Christ." So she used that against him to trick him into bringing her back to Utah from San Diego, telling Mitchell that she "had a very strong feeling about going to Salt Lake". As a result, Mitchell then decided to bring Smart and Barzee back to Utah, where he said he would prepare to fight the anti-Christ, who Mitchell defined in part as former LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley. And it was in Sandy, Utah where they were found on March 12th, 2003.
During the hearing, Elizabeth Smart remained calm, poised, articulate and never lost control of her emotions on the stand. After the hearing, Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father, said he is proud of his daughter for having the courage to testify about what happened to her. He further stated that Elizabeth's vivid account should leave no doubt that Mitchell is competent, and added that his daughter's testimony revealed details of the kidnapping he had not heard about before.
Elizabeth Smart was permitted to give testimony on October 1st in deference to the fact that she will be deploying on a full-time LDS mission to Paris, France for 18 months beginning on November 10th. The remainder of the competency hearing has been continued until November 30th.