Former Child Kidnapping Victim, Elizabeth Smart, Engaged to be MarriedMonica Bielanko
I lived just a couple blocks from the Smart home where Brian David Mitchell kidnapped Elizabeth Smart at knife point. As a producer at Fox 13 News in Salt Lake City I was part of a team who consistently covered her kidnapping and miraculous return.
I was also at the courthouse the day they announced that Brian David Mitchell would spend the rest of his life in prison.
I have long admired Elizabeth Smart’s eloquence, strength and fortitude in the face of such a horrific experience. Which is why I’m so pleased to report that the now 24-year-old is engaged to be married.
After an experience such as hers, where, at 14, she was repeatedly raped by Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, many people speculated that Smart would never be able to live a normal life. So far, she’s proving everyone wrong. After serving a mission in France for the Mormon church, Smart returned to testify at Mitchell’s trial and speak at his sentencing.
Now, as People, reports, Smart is planning a summer wedding. Her father, Ed Smart, confirmed the news.
“We’re very excited for her,” Ed said Friday. “She told us at home last Saturday. I wasn’t really surprised. They’ve been very happy together. We’re just thrilled. We’re looking forward to her moving on to this next stage and leading a very happy life.”
Edi did not say the groom’s name and says Elizabeth “wants to keep it very private and feels very strongly about that right now.”
My former hometown newspaper, the Salt Lake Tribune is reporting wedding registries online at Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn list an July 1 wedding date for an Elizabeth Smart and Matthew Gilmour in Utah.
A rep for Elizabeth, says “I know they’re looking at a summer wedding. They’re still in the process of planning the wedding, and there are a lot of details to still be worked out.” He also says although Elizabeth hopes to continue her public child advocacy work, she hopes to keep her personal life private.
As the Salt Lake Tribune reports, Elizabeth held a press conference in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky in :an effort to start a program that would help kids fight off potential attackers:
In November, Smart held a press conference at the state Capitol in the wake of the Penn State sexual abuse scandal, suggesting the Penn State victims could have benefited from a program Smart would like to see implemented in elementary schools called radKIDS [Resist Aggression Defensively]. The program teaches children about calling 911 and making defensive moves against attackers.
Smart has also implored President Barack Obama to appropriate more resources into investigating sexual abuse crimes against children.
I have a feeling we haven’t heard the last of Elizabeth Smart. I hope she continues her good work on behalf of children. Congratulations, to the happy couple!