Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped in 2002 at age 14 and raped repeatedly while being held in captivity for nine months by street preacher Brian David Mitchell and his former wife Wanda Barzee, has responded with “shock” to the news that Barzee will be released next week after Utah authorities announced that they had miscalculated the amount of time the now 72-year-old should serve. In an appearance made on the steps of the Utah state capitol, Smart, now a 30-year-old married mother and activist for victims’ rights, said that officials had promised her that Barzee wouldn’t be released until January 2024 at the earliest.
“I only found out shortly before everybody else,” said Smart. “And yes, it was a big shock.”
“She is a woman who had six children yet could co-conspire to kidnap a 14-year-old girl, and not only sit next to her while being raped but encourage her husband to continue to rape me,” she continued. “So do I believe she’s dangerous? Yes. [Barzee] saw me as her slave. She called me her handmaiden. She never hesitated to let her displeasure with me be known.”
Smart added that her concern was not a matter of vengeance but rather out of fear for her safety and that of others. Barzee, she said, had shown no clear signs of contrition or rehabilitation ahead of her release. Attorney Scott Williams has said that Barzee suffers from several mental illnesses, and that the terms of her release dictate that she must pursue mental health treatment and not contact Smart’s family. Mitchell is continuing to serve a life sentence after being convicted of raping and kidnapping Smart.
On Monday, Elizabeth Smart was interviewed by Gayle King. Watch her talk about the ordeal below below.
Read the full story at The Associated Press.