FILE – In this Sept. 13, 2018, file photo, Elizabeth Smart arrives for a news conference in Salt Lake City. Utah kidnapping and rape survivor Smart says she was sexually assaulted on an airplane last year. Smart said on “CBS This Morning” Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, that she was sleeping when she felt someone’s hand rubbing her inner thigh. She says the last time someone touched her without permission was when she was kidnapped as a 14-year-old girl. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah kidnapping and rape survivor Elizabeth Smart said Thursday that she was sexually assaulted on an airplane last year while she was sleeping.
Smart, now a 32-year-old mother of three, referenced her kidnapping from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 in describing her reaction to the attack to “CBS News This Morning.” She said she was asleep during a flight when the man next to her began rubbing her inner thigh with his hand.
“The last time someone touched me without my say-so was when I was kidnapped, and I froze,” she said.
She said the man said nothing. Smart later reported the attack to authorities and said she wants to prevent the man from preying on others.
Smart’s spokesman, Chris Thomas, said Thursday the attack happened July 19 on a Delta Air Lines flight from Philadelphia to Atlanta.
He said it’s it’s being investigated by the FBI and Delta.
“I called up my husband and I was like, ‘Do I just have a big badge on my forehead that says ‘Easy Prey’ or ’Victim?’ ” Smart told CBS. “Because I’m sick of it.”
Smart wasn’t available for an interview Thursday, Thomas said.
In 2002, Smart was held captive and repeatedly sexually assaulted for nine months before she was rescued. After last year’s flight, she said she began training in self defense, and now runs a program to train other women and girls.
FBI spokeswoman Sandra Barker said she could not confirm or deny that an investigation exists. The CBS report cited a Delta statement that it is cooperating with an investigation of Smart’s allegation.