For the first time since she was abducted from her Salt Lake City bedroom seven years ago, Elizabeth Smart on Thursday provided details about her nine-month ordeal with her accused kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell. She described being drugged, tied to a tree and raped as often as four times a day.
Smart was prepared to meet Mitchell face to face in a federal court, but that never happened.
COVERS: Elizabeth Returns Home 9 Months After Being Kidnapped
Yet before Smart was called to the stand, her alleged abductor, Mitchell, began singing a Mormon hymn as he entered the courtroom at 9 a.m. Judge Dale Kimball ordered him to stop, but he refused and was immediately sent to a holding cell to watch the proceedings via a television monitor.
In his absence Smart, 21, calmly recounted her time with Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She told U.S. Attorney Brett L. Tolman that Mitchell raped her daily, beginning June 5, 2002, the night she was abducted from her home at knifepoint.
“He placed his hand on my chest,” she recalled of the night Mitchell allegedly entered her bedroom and took her away, “and then put the knife up to my neck. He told me to get up quietly and if I didn’t then he would kill me and my family.”
She continued: “He was whispering, but it was still loud enough it could wake someone. He was dressed in sweats, sweatshirt, stocking cap, tennis shoes.”
Mitchell led her into a camp in the woods three miles behind her house, she said, then took her into a lean-to where Wanda Barzee tried to force her to bathe.
“She eventually just proceeded to wash my feet and told me to change out of my pajamas into a robe type of garment,” Smart recalled. “And when I refused, she said if I didn’t, she would have Brian Mitchell come rip my pajamas off. I put the robe on … he came and performed a ceremony, which was to marry me to him. After that, he proceeded to rape me.”
Religion and Sex
Smart told the court that she was tethered to a tree by a cable except when she was being raped by Mitchell – sometimes four times a day.
“Of your nine months with him, what was his dominant focus?” asked U.S. Attorney Tolman.
“Sex,” replied Smart.
Mitchell has twice been found incompetent for trial in Utah state court, so Smart’s testimony that he kidnapped her for sex, not because of religion, is critical to the federal case.
“Did he speak to you about religion?” asked Tolman her.
“He used religion to get what he wanted,” said Smart.
According to her testimony, Mitchell provided her with drugs and alcohol to lower her resistance. Smart said that she once became sick when Mitchell forced her to drink too much alcohol, and he forced her to lay face down in her vomit all night. He also showed her pornography, she said.
She described the self-avowed prophet as “evil,” “manipulative,” “greedy” and “not close to God.”
He Called Her Augustine
According to Smart, Mitchell changed her name to Augustine and forced her to go without food for days at a time. She said she attempted to fight Mitchell’s sexual attacks once by biting him. “He said if I did that, he would never have sex with me again and I would be the most miserable woman in the world,” she testified. “He said that but it didn’t stop him.”
Smart’s parents, Ed and Lois Smart, were on hand to hear the painful testimony. They have said they never pressed her for details about her ordeal. Smart leaves on a mission to France next month for the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Her testimony will be used during Mitchell’s federal competency hearing on Nov. 30.