WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Elizabeth Smart said in an interview with CBS News “This Morning” that she was sexually attacked by a man next to her on a flight home to Utah last year.
- Her reaction, she recalled, was reminiscent of her kidnapping ordeal she experienced in 2002.
- Smart reported the incident to the airline and to authorities, who are now working on an investigation regarding the matter.
Kidnapping and rape survivor Elizabeth Smart revealed Thursday that she was sexually assaulted while she was sleeping on a Delta flight to Utah last summer.
“The last time someone touched me without my say-so was when I was kidnapped, and I froze,” Smart recalled on CBS’ ‘This Morning’ as she was describing her reaction to the assault.
She said she had been sleeping during the flight but was startled awake when she felt the man sitting next to her touching her inner thigh.
“I jerked awake. I expected the man to jerk his hand away, apologize, give me some kind of reason why he was touching me. But he said nothing,” Smart said.
As confirmed by Smart’s spokesman Chris Thomas, the incident occurred last July 19 on a Delta Air Lines flight from Philadelphia to Atlanta.
After the flight, Smart reported the attack to Delta and has since reported it to the FBI. Thomas said the FBI and Delta have now launched an investigation into the matter.
Smart said she reported the incident immediately because she doesn’t want the man preying on other girls.
She also told CBS she called up her husband afterward and said something like, “Do I just have a big badge on my forehead that says ‘Easy Prey’ or ’Victim?, Because I’m sick of it.”
Smart was just 14 years old when she was kidnapped from her Utah home in 2002 by handyman Brian David Mitchell. Between 2002 and 2003, she was held captive and repeatedly raped for nine months before she was rescued.
Now at 32, married and a mother of three, she has since devoted her life to helping other kidnapping survivors. She also revealed to the TV show that she has just launched a self-defense class for girls and women so they can be trained to fight their way out of dangerous situations like the ones she has had.
Although FBI spokeswoman Sandra Barker could not confirm or deny that an investigation is being carried out, the CBS report referred to a statement from Delta that the airline is working with authorities on an investigation regarding Smart’s allegation.