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Elizabeth Smart, right, and her father Ed Smart talk to the media on Wednesday, May 25, 2011, in Salt Lake City. Jim Urquhart/AP/Press Association Images

Kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart confronts her abductor in court

Smart told the man who took her from her bedroom at knifepoint a teenager and held her captive for nine months: “I have a wonderful life now… you will never affect me again”.

NINE YEARS AFTER being kidnapped from her bedroom at knifepoint and held by her abductor for nine months, 23-year-old Elizabeth Smart says is ready to start a “beautiful” chapter in her life, helping other child victims who can’t speak for themselves or are still missing.

“I think one of the biggest ways to overcome any trial in life, to heal from any kind of experience is by helping those around you.”By lifting those around you, you end up lifting yourself as well,” she said, according to the Seattle Times.

Her abductor Brian David Mitchell will spend the rest of in life in prison after being sentenced by a federal judge.

A jury convicted the 57-year-old street preacher of snatching a then 14-year-old Smart from her Salt Lake City bedroom by knifepoint in the early hours of June 5, 2002. The massive search to find Smart riveted the nation, as did her improbable recovery while walking with her captor on a suburban street in broad daylight on March 12, 2003.

After the hearing, a beaming and poised Smart told reporters she was thrilled by the sentence.

“Today is the ending of a very long chapter and the beginning of a very beautiful chapter for me,” she said.

Smart, who will graduate from Brigham Young University in Provo next year, said she’s weighing her options for the future and wants to work in child advocacy, including establishing the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which will focus on protecting children from falling victim to kidnapping and sexual crimes. A Mormon, she has recently returned from a church mission in France.

“I am looking at all the different options and trying to decide where I can make the biggest difference, where I can have the biggest effect for good.”

Addressing her abductor

Smart, now 23, stood fearless in the courtroom, finally getting the chance to confront her kidnapper with a steady, clear voice.

“I don’t have very much to say to you. I know exactly what you did,” Smart said. “I know that you know that what you did was wrong. You did it with full knowledge … I have a wonderful life now and no matter what you do, you will never affect me again.

“You took away nine months of my life that can never be returned,” she added.

Mitchell, frail and skinny with a long, peppery white beard, sat the way he did through years of court hearings — eyes closed, hands clasped as if in prayer, softly singing hymns, never looking at his victim.

Mitchell’s sentencing closed a major legal chapter in the heartbreaking ordeal that stalled for years after he was declared mentally ill and unfit to stand trial in state court. A federal jury in December unanimously convicted him of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for sex.

At trial, Smart described her ordeal as “nine months of hell.” Mitchell whisked her away to his camp in the foothills near the family home. She was made to wear white, religious-style robes and forced into a polygamous marriage with Mitchell. She was raped, forced to use alcohol and drugs and view pornography.

US District Judge Dale Kimball said Mitchell deserved a life sentence because the facts of the case were “unusually heinous and degrading.”

Mitchell’s estranged wife Wanda Barzee, 65, is serving 15 years in a federal prison hospital for her part in the adbudction of Elizabeth Smart, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Additional reporting by the AP