Elizabeth Smart Says She Was Sexually Assaulted on a Plane Last Summer: 'I Froze'

"The last time someone touched me without my say so was when I was kidnapped," Elizabeth Smart said

Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped and repeatedly raped in 2002 when she was 14, revealed in a recent interview that a man sexually assaulted her on a plane last summer.

Speaking with Gayle King on CBS This Morning, Smart said she was asleep on a Delta flight to Salt Lake City when the man seated next to her began touching her.

“I felt someone’s hand rubbing in between my legs, on my inner thigh,” she said. “I was shocked. The last time someone touched me without my say-so was when I was kidnapped.”

“I froze,” Smart added. “I did not know what to do.”

After her harrowing kidnapping, Smart said she has “never been worried. I’ve never been threatened until now.”

According to Smart, the man didn’t apologize or acknowledge the assault, but Smart reported it to Delta. “I don’t want him preying on other girls,” she said, adding that Delta personnel were “appalled and they offered to help as much as they could.”

Delta released a statement to CBS This Morning, reading: “Delta took the matter seriously and has continued to cooperate with Ms. Smart and the appropriate authorities as the matter is investigated. Delta does not tolerate misconduct towards other customers or Delta people.”

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

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After the incident on the plane, Smart said she began to explore self-defense, leading to launch a program for women dubbed “Smart Defense.”

Smart was taken at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002 by Brian David Mitchell and held for nine months, before being rescued. During that time, she was drugged, tied to a tree and raped as often as four times a day.

Mitchell is serving a life sentence in federal prison. His wife and accomplice, Wanda Barzee, was released from prison in 2018.

Now, Smart is a married mother of three and a New York Times bestselling author who advocates for victims of sex abuse through the Elizabeth Smart Foundation.

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