Elizabeth Smart

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Elizabeth Smart
Smart in 2023
Elizabeth Ann Smart

(1987-11-03) November 3, 1987 (age 36)
Alma materBrigham Young University (B.M.)
  • Activist
  • journalist
Known forAbduction survivor
Matthew Gilmour
(m. 2012)

Elizabeth Ann Gilmour (née Smart; born November 3, 1987)[1] is an American child safety activist and commentator for ABC News.[2] She gained national attention at age 14 when she was abducted from her home in Salt Lake City by Brian David Mitchell. Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, held Smart captive for nine months until she was rescued by police officers on a street in Sandy, Utah.

Smart has since gone on to work as an activist and advocate for missing persons. Her life and abduction have been the subject of numerous non-fiction books and films.

Early life[edit]

Elizabeth Ann Smart was born on November 3, 1987, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Edward "Ed" and Lois Smart. Her family was part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[3] She is the second-oldest child in her family; she has four brothers and one sister. Smart attended Bryant Middle School and East High School in Salt Lake City. She later enrolled in Brigham Young University, where she earned her Bachelor of Music in harp performance.[4][5]


On June 5, 2002, 14-year-old Smart was abducted at knifepoint from her bedroom in her family's house in Salt Lake City, Utah. For the next nine months, she was raped daily, tied up, and threatened with death if she attempted to escape.[6] She was rescued by police officers on March 12, 2003, on a public street in Sandy, Utah, 18 miles (29 km) from her home. Two witnesses recognized abductors Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee from an America's Most Wanted episode.

On November 16, 2009, Barzee pled guilty to assisting in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.[7] On May 19, 2010, federal Judge Dale A. Kimball sentenced Barzee to 15 years in federal prison. As part of a plea deal between the defense and federal prosecutors, he gave Barzee credit for seven years that she had already served.[8] The court found Mitchell competent to stand trial for kidnapping and sexual assault charges. He was found guilty on both counts and sentenced in May 2011 to two life terms in federal prison.[9]

Activism and media coverage[edit]

Elizabeth Smart (center) and her mother Lois meet with President George W. Bush in the Roosevelt Room at the signing of the PROTECT Act of 2003
Smart in 2012

On March 8, 2006, Smart spoke before the United States Congress to support sexual predator legislation and the AMBER Alert system. On July 26, 2006, she spoke at an event held following the signing of the Adam Walsh Act. Smart was one of five recovered young adults who contributed entries to the 2008 book You're Not Alone, which was published by the U.S. Department of Justice. She appeared at a May 2008 event promoting the book.[10][11][12] In 2009, Smart commented on the kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard. She shared that, in her own experience of recovering from trauma, she had found dwelling on the past to be unproductive.[13][14]

In October 2009, Smart spoke at the 2009 Women's Conference in California (hosted by Maria Shriver) on the topic of overcoming obstacles in life.[15] In 2011, Smart founded the Elizabeth Smart Foundation,[16] which aims to bring hope and end the victimization and exploitation of sexual assault through prevention, recovery, and advocacy.[17] In March 2011, Smart was one of four women awarded the Diane von Furstenberg Award.[18] On July 7, 2011, ABC News announced that she would work as a commentator for them, mainly focusing on missing persons.[19][20]

In July 2012, Theta Phi Alpha National Fraternity honored Smart with the Siena Medal award.[21] The medal is the highest honor the organization bestows upon a non-member. They named it after their patroness, St. Catherine of Siena.[22] On May 1, 2013, in a speech at a human trafficking conference at Johns Hopkins University, Smart discussed the need to emphasize individual self-worth in fighting human trafficking and the importance of dispelling cultural myths surrounding girls' loss of value upon sexual contact. Having been raped by her captor, she recalled the destructive impact of exposure to abstinence-only sexual education programs. Many of them teach that a sexually active girl is akin to a chewed piece of gum. "I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.' And that's how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value," Smart said. "Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value." Smart went on to ask that listeners educate children on having self-worth, avoiding viewing themselves as victims.[23][24]

In February 2014, Smart testified before the Utah State House of Representatives in favor of HB 286. The bill would create an optional curriculum for use in Utah schools to provide training on child sexual abuse prevention.[25] In early 2015, Faith Counts featured Smart in a video in which she explains how her religion sustained her through her ordeal and helped her heal.[26] As of September 2016, Smart is a correspondent for the true-crime show Crime Watch Daily.[27] Various state politicians have proposed bills that would require all computers to have a pornography filter, branding it the "Elizabeth Smart Law." However, in March 2018, her spokesman denied her relationship to the proposal. Her lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to the politicians in which they were ordered not to use her name.[28]

On June 5, 2017, on the 15th anniversary of her abduction, Lifetime aired the made-for-TV film titled I Am Elizabeth Smart, narrated and produced by Smart, which tells the story of her kidnapping from her perspective. The film starred Alana Boden as Elizabeth Smart, Skeet Ulrich as Brian David Mitchell, Deirdre Lovejoy as Wanda Ileen Barzee, George Newbern as Ed Smart, and Anne Openshaw as Lois Smart.[29] In 2018, Smart published Where There's Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up with St. Martin's Press.[30][31]

Her abduction and rescue were widely reported and were the subject of a made-for-TV movie, The Elizabeth Smart Story, Lifetime's I Am Elizabeth Smart and non-fiction books. In October 2013, My Story, a memoir of Smart's experience co-written with Chris Stewart, was published by St. Martin's Press.[32] The book details both Smart's kidnapping and the formation of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which works to promote awareness about abductions.[33][34] Smart has played the harp on national television in the United States.[35]

Smart's uncle, Tom Smart, and author Lee Benson wrote a book about the search for Smart, In Plain Sight: The Startling Truth Behind the Elizabeth Smart Investigation. Her father wrote another book about Smart's kidnapping, called Bringing Elizabeth Home. A television movie, The Elizabeth Smart Story, was made in 2003, based on the book by Smart's father.

In 2021, Smart competed on The Masked Dancer as "Moth". She was eliminated during the third episode of the series, placing eighth overall in the competition.[36]

In 2022, Elizabeth Smart was the executive producer of the Lifetime movie Stolen by Their Father as part of its "Ripped From the Headlines" feature film which talked about Lizbeth Meredith's plans to reclaim her daughters after being kept in Greece by Meredith's ex-husband Greg during their visit to him.[37]

In 2023, Smart was the executive producer of the Lifetime movie The Girl Who Escaped: The Kara Robinson Story as part of its "Ripped From the Headlines" which detailed the abduction of Kara Robinson at the hands of Richard Evonitz.[38] She was later the executive producer of Abducted By My Teacher: The Elizabeth Thomas Story as part of its "Ripped From the Headlines" feature film which detailed the Kidnapping of Elizabeth Thomas.[39]

Personal life[edit]

On November 11, 2009, Smart left Salt Lake City to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Paris.[40][41] Smart temporarily returned from her mission in November 2010 to serve as the chief witness in the federal trial of Brian David Mitchell. After the trial, she returned to France to finish her mission, coming home to Utah in early 2011.[42]

While serving as missionaries in the Paris Mission, Smart met Scotland native Matthew Gilmour. In January 2012, after a courtship of one year, they became engaged.[43][44][45] They married on February 18, 2012, in a private ceremony in the Laie Hawaii Temple.[46][47] Since then, the couple have had three children in 2015, 2017, and 2018.[48][49][50][51][52]

In 2019, while traveling home to Utah aboard a Delta Airlines flight, Smart alleged that she was awakened by a male passenger next to her rubbing her inner thigh. She reported the incident and began a self-defense program for women and girls called Smart Defense.[53]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Elizabeth Smart Fast Facts". CNN. October 13, 2022. Retrieved October 27, 2022.
  2. ^ Smolowe, Jill (June 6, 2011). "Elizabeth Smart: 'I Forgive Him'". People. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  3. ^ "Elizabeth Smart Shares About Her Faith And Kidnapping". NPR. Tell Me More. December 31, 2013. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  4. ^ Talbot, Margaret (October 21, 2013). "Gone Girl". newyorker.com. New Yorker.
  5. ^ Hanson, Kurt (November 5, 2012). "Elizabeth Smart honored for 'Legacy of Hope'". universe.byu.edu.
  6. ^ "Elizabeth Smart says she was raped daily". The Daily Herald. 2009. Archived from the original on October 4, 2009. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
  7. ^ "Barzee expected to enter guilty plea in Smart case". The Daily Herald. 2009. Archived from the original on November 18, 2009. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  8. ^ "Elizabeth Smart kidnapper pleads guilty to trying to abduct cousin - CNN.com". CNN News. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  9. ^ "Elizabeth Smart Tells Kidnapper She'll Live a Good Life Moments Before He Gets a Life Sentence". FoxNews.com. May 25, 2011. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  10. ^ "You're Not Alone: The Journey From Abduction to Empowerment". Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  11. ^ "Elizabeth Smart hopes to aid victims". CNN. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
  12. ^ Reavy, Pat (May 20, 2008). "Elizabeth Smart: Ready for college and moving on after kidnapping". Deseret News. Archived from the original on May 21, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
  13. ^ Oh, Eunice (August 28, 2009). "Elizabeth Smart's Advice to Jaycee Dugard: Move Forward in Life". People. Archived from the original on December 17, 2021. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  14. ^ James, Frank (August 28, 2009). "Kidnap Victim Elizabeth Smart Gives Jaycee Dugard Advice". NPR. Retrieved October 23, 2022.
  15. ^ "The Women's Conference hosted by California's First Lady". Archived from the original on April 16, 2013. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  16. ^ "Elizabeth Smart Fast Facts". CNN. October 31, 2017. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  17. ^ "Home". elizabethsmartfoundation.org.
  18. ^ Moss, Hilary (March 12, 2011). "Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Smart Honored By Diane Von Furstenberg". HuffPost. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  19. ^ Dobner, Jennifer (July 7, 2011). "Elizabeth Smart to work as ABC commentator". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  20. ^ Collins, Lois M. (July 7, 2011). "Elizabeth Smart to join ABC for missing-persons insight". Deseret News. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  21. ^ "Siena Medalists | Theta Phi Alpha". www.thetaphialpha.org. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  22. ^ "Awards Recipients | Theta Phi Alpha". www.thetaphialpha.org. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  23. ^ "Video: Elizabeth Smart speaks at Johns Hopkins University". May 7, 2013. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  24. ^ Evenson, Jay (May 7, 2013). "Did Elizabeth Smart say it's wrong to teach abstinence?". Deseret News. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  25. ^ Brown, Madeleine (February 19, 2014), "Elizabeth Smart backs bill on child sexual abuse prevention training in schools", Deseret News, retrieved November 1, 2021
  26. ^ "Multi-faith Initiative Viewed by Millions— Faith Counts releases new video featuring Elizabeth Smart". Newsroom. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. February 6, 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  27. ^ "Elizabeth Smart returns for season two of 'Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen'". fox13now.com. September 15, 2016. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  28. ^ Elizabeth Smart demands porn bill backer stop using her name - Michelle R. Smith, The Washington Post / AP, March 26, 2018
  29. ^ Saraiya, Sonia (November 17, 2017). "Lifetime's 'I Am Elizabeth Smart'". TV Reviews. Variety. Archived from the original on November 26, 2017. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  30. ^ Smart, Elizabeth A. (March 27, 2018). Where There's Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1250115522.
  31. ^ Smart, Elizabeth A. (March 27, 2018). "Where There's Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  32. ^ Kaufman, Leslie (November 20, 2012). "Elizabeth Smart Memoir of Her Captivity Is Acquired by St. Martin's". The New York Times. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  33. ^ The Associated Press (November 23, 2012). "Congressman-elect writing Elizabeth Smart's memoir". Deseretnews.com. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  34. ^ Foy, Paul (October 7, 2013). "Elizabeth Smart details experience in Memoir". Deseretnews.com. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  35. ^ "Elizabeth Plays The Harp". NBC News. October 5, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  36. ^ Rachel Yang (January 13, 2021). "The Masked Dancer recap: Moth flies away, revealed as famed activist". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  37. ^ "Lizbeth Meredith Now: "Stolen by Their Father" Subject Shares Story".
  38. ^ Rice, Lynnette (January 4, 2023). "Lifetime Partners Again with Elizabeth Smart on "The Kara Robinson Story"". Deadline. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  39. ^ Melendez, Miguel A. (August 11, 2023). "Elizabeth Thomas Reflects on Being Abducted by Her Teacher, Getting Closure". ET Online. Retrieved August 12, 2023.
  40. ^ Reavy, Pat (September 17, 2009). "Elizabeth Smart could testify before leaving for LDS mission". Deseret News. Archived from the original on September 22, 2009. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  41. ^ McEntee, Peg (November 19, 2009). "For Dorotha Smart, it is time to move on". The Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on November 26, 2009. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  42. ^ Pat Reavy (May 19, 2011). "Elizabeth Smart wants to use her trials to inspire others". Deseret News. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  43. ^ "Former Utah kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart gets engaged". MSNBC. January 20, 2012. Archived from the original on January 22, 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2012.
  44. ^ "Elizabeth Smart Gets Married". People. February 18, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  45. ^ "Elizabeth Smart marries boyfriend in private, spur of the moment Hawaiian ceremony". NewsCore. February 19, 2012. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  46. ^ Lee, Jasen (February 18, 2012). "Elizabeth Smart marries in Hawaiian Mormon temple". Deseret News. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  47. ^ Nelson, James (February 19, 2012). "Former kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart marries in Hawaii". Reuters. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  48. ^ Eaton, Nate (May 18, 2015). "ED SMART'S BIG SCREEN MISSION TO STOP CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING". Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  49. ^ "Kidnap Survivor Elizabeth Smart Shares First Photo of Her New Baby Boy on Easter Sunday". people.com. April 16, 2017.
  50. ^ "Elizabeth Smart shares first photo of adorable baby boy on Easter". deseretnews.com. April 17, 2017.
  51. ^ Calvario, Liz (June 26, 2018). "Elizabeth Smart is Pregnant With Her Third Child". Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  52. ^ "Elizabeth Smart gives birth to third child, a baby girl". SRN News. November 19, 2018.
  53. ^ Doha Madani; Joe Fryer; Elisha Fieldstadt (February 7, 2020). "Elizabeth Smart says she was sexually assaulted on an airplane last year". NBC News. Retrieved May 17, 2020.


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