Elizabeth Smart to join ABC for missing-persons insight

Published: Thursday, July 7 2011 8:43 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Elizabeth Smart has apparently accepted a job as ABC's new expert on what families of missing persons go through for Good Morning America. And she's likely to be tapped to add insights on other ABC shows, including Nightline.

The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz broke the news Wednesday night, wondering if perhaps the move was a way for ABC to "land exclusive interviews" with Smart, who was kidnapped from the bedroom she shared with her little sister when she was just 14 years old, back in 2002.

"This is definitely not about looking backward and telling her story, which has been well told and retold," ABC spokeswoman Julie Townsend told Kurtz. She defined Smart's future job as "helping viewers understand missing-persons stories from the perspective of knowing what a family experiences when a loved one goes missing," Kurtz wrote.

Smart, who just completed a mission in France for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been very forthright about her ordeal. In December, a jury found one of her abductors, Brian David Mitchell, guilty of kidnapping and taking Smart across state lines for the purpose of illegal sexual activity. Smart had testified in detail about the daily sexual assaults she endured while she was his captive.

Wanda Barzee, Mitchell's wife, struck a plea deal and is serving time in a Texas prison. Her next parole hearing is in 2018.

At the time of Mitchell's trial, following her testimony, mental health experts marveled at Smart's composure and noted her poise and resilience as traits that could serve as an example to other victims of kidnapping or sexual assault.

News of Smart's new job with ABC comes as the country is debating the acquittal of Casey Anthony in the death of her daughter, Caylee. Caylee was 2 at the time of her disappearance in 2008. Her body was found about six months later. The girl's mother was found guilty on lesser charges of obstruction of justice.

Email: lois@desnews.com

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