Monday 19 February 2018

Street preacher's kidnap victim tells of her daily rape and drugs ordeal

Elizabeth Smart at the Federal Court in Salt Lake City, Utah
Elizabeth Smart at the Federal Court in Salt Lake City, Utah
Elizabeth was at court for the kidnapping trial of Brian David Mitchell, a street preacher

Jennifer Dobner in Salt Lake City

A woman kidnapped by a street preacher for months when she was 14 years old told she was raped daily and forced to take drugs by her captor.

Elizabeth Smart, now aged 23, also testified that she was so terrified of her abductor, homeless Utah preacher David Mitchell (57), that on the day US police found her, she told them she was someone else.

Yesterday she described Mitchell as a crude, vulgar, self-serving person who used religion to justify his actions, including her abduction and repeated rape.

"He was his number one priority, followed by sex, drugs and alcohol, but he used religion in all of those aspects to justify everything," she said.

Mitchell, is accused of taking her from her home at knifepoint on June 5, 2002, when she was just 14. He is charged in federal court with kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines. If convicted, he faces a life sentence.

Mitchell was not in the courtroom to hear to hear Ms Smart testify. As on each previous day of the trial, he was removed for disrupting the proceedings by singing hymns.

His defence team argue he suffers from an escalating mental illness and holds extreme religious beliefs that lead him to think he is directed by God. He calls himself 'Emmanuel'.

But Ms Smart claimed that Mitchell was just a hypocrite.

She was found in March 2003 with Mitchell. In previous testimony, she said during those nine months her life was a nightmare of abuse.

On the night of her kidnapping, she said Mitchell led her to a mountainside camp above Salt Lake City, where she was stripped of her red pyjamas and dressed in white robes before being forced to marry him in a quickie ceremony, which Mitchell performed himself.

He also repeatedly threatened that Ms Smart, her family, or anyone who tried to help her would be killed if she ever tried to escape.

She said she did reach out for help on one of the trips she made with Mitchell and his wife at the time, Wanda Eileen Barzee, from their campsite.

"Ms Barzee took me into the bathroom at the Hard Rock Cafe and I tried to scratch 'help' into the bathroom door,'' she said.

The court also heard that an attempt by an investigating detective to speak to her was thwarted by Mitchell.

Barzee pleaded guilty to kidnapping and is in federal prison.

Irish Independent

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