(SALT LAKE CITY, Utah) — Wedding bells are ringing for Elizabeth Smart, the young Utah woman who was kidnapped at age 14 and survived nine months of captivity.
“I’m so excited,” Smart told ABC News exclusively. “We are looking forward to a bright future together.”
A paid contributor for Good Morning America, reporting and providing analysis on issues related to missing and exploited children, and a music student at Brigham Young University, Smart, 24, got engaged last weekend and is planning a wedding for ”later this year.”
“She is in seventh heaven,” said her publicist Chris Thomas of Intrepid Communications. “She’s excited, she’s enjoying life. It’s been an adventure.”
Thomas would not reveal anything related to the proposal, groom or upcoming wedding. He only said that Smart and her family were “still working to finalize some details.”
“While [Smart] plans to be involved with her public advocacy work, she really feels she needs to keep her personal life private,” Thomas said.
Smart has continued to be very involved with her Elizabeth Smart Foundation and its group radKIDS, a non-profit educational organization, as well as traveled across the country to speak about child-advocacy issues.
“It’s been a banner year for her,” Thomas said. “She has been in school, she has obviously been dating and has tried to make it a normal life.”
Homeless street preacher Brian David Mitchell abducted Smart from her bedroom in her Salt Lake City home at knife-point in 2002, while her then-9-year-old sister, Mary Katherine, watched from her own bed.
Smart took the stand in 2010 at Mitchell’s trial and gave harrowing details about how he and his wife, Wanda Barzee, held her captive for nine months. During that time, Smart testified that Mitchell raped her, forced her to pretend she was his wife and to disguise herself in public. Smart was eventually found alive on March 12, 2003, by passers-by in a Salt Lake City suburb less than 18 miles from her home.
Mitchell, 58, was convicted of kidnapping and transporting a minor across state lines for sex and is serving a life sentence in prison. Barzee is serving a 15-year sentence in a federal prison hospital in Texas for assisting in the kidnapping.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Mariel Turner, Kacey Montoya & Nerissa Knight, KTLA
Z. Byron Wolf, CNN
Kristina Sgueglia, CNN
Debra Goldschmidt, CNN