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By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated October 21, 2003 07:55 AM
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Apparently receiving heat for her upcoming interview with 15-year-old kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart, NBC’s Katie Couric says that Smart’s TV appearance — which will air Friday night — was conducted with her parents’ consent and contained no questions that might traumatize her.

“Part of her healing process is her ability to make decisions and do what she wants to do, obviously with her parents’ consent,” Couric, referring to Elizabeth, tells the Associated Press.

“I guess different parents would make different decisions, but I think Ed and Lois (Smart) have her best interests at heart, and I don’t think they would exploit their daughter,” she said, adding that NBC would not exploit the teen, either.

Asked by AP if Couric inquired about anything that caused his daughter discomfort, Ed Smart said on Monday: “No. We wouldn’t allow it.”

Couric interviewed the high school freshman last Tuesday at her family’s ranch near Salt Lake City, AP reported. The network did not pay for the interview, said NBC spokeswoman Caryn Mautner.

The girl was taken from her family home on June 5, 2002. Homeless couple Brian David Mitchell, 50, and his wife, Wanda Barzee, 57, are charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated burglary in connection with Elizabeth’s abduction.

They allegedly kept Elizabeth as Mitchell’s second wife for nine months in Utah and California. They were found March 12 in Sandy, a suburb about 15 miles south of Salt Lake City.

In a snippet of their conversation released by NBC, Couric asked Elizabeth what were some of the greatest things about being back with her family and what she had been most anticipating during her months of captivity.

“Um, just being back and not having to be, like, told I’m a horrible, evil, wicked, evil, evil girl every 10 seconds,” she replied.