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Former kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart says she was sexually assaulted on Delta flight

Smart says she awoke to fellow passenger touching her thigh 

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Thursday 06 February 2020 19:48 GMT
Elizabeth Smart says she was sexually assaulted on Delta flight

Elizabeth Smart has revealed she was sexually assaulted on a Delta flight by a fellow passenger.

On Thursday, Smart, who has advocated on behalf of kidnapping victims after she was abducted and sexually assaulted at 14, told CBS This Morning’s Gayle King about the incident which happened last summer.

According to Smart, she was asleep onboard a Utah-bound Delta flight in 2019 when she woke up to the man sitting next to her rubbing her leg.

“I had been asleep and all of a sudden I woke up because I felt someone’s hand rubbing in between my legs on my inner thigh,” Smart said. “I was shocked. The last time someone touched me without my say-so was when I was kidnapped and I froze. I didn’t know what to do.”

The 32-year-old, who was held hostage for nine months in 2002 before she was rescued, recalled feeling as if she should know how to react to the assault. “You’re Elizabeth Smart! You should know what to do,” she said.

Following the incident, Smart says she informed Delta, which was “so apologetic,” but that she does not blame the airline.

“It’s not Delta’s fault. It was this man, this man made a decision,” she told King, adding that she followed up with the FBI about the assault, and that it is now an “on-going investigation”.

The experience prompted Smart to launch “Smart Defence,” a self-defence class for women and girls developed with help from both law enforcement officers and experts in martial arts.

The class, which Smart hopes will teach women to “give themselves an opportunity to get away,” is currently only available in Salt Lake City, Utah, but will be available in cities across the US in the coming months.

The Independent has contacted Delta for comment.

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