Ed Smart’s big screen mission to stop child sex trafficking

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Editor’s Note: Read a review of “The Abolitionists,” from EastIdahoNews.com Film Critic Tony Potter.

REXBURG — Ed Smart, the father of a Utah teenager who was kidnapped and found nine months later, visited east Idaho Thursday to attend a screening of a documentary about child sex trafficking.

Smart’s daughter, Elizabeth, was forced from her Salt Lake City home on June 5, 2002.  Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee are currently in prison for kidnapping the then 14-year-old child.

“When Elizabeth was abducted do we think of her being enslaved?” Ed Smart asked during a conversation with EastIdahoNews.com.  “She absolutely was for nine months.  She was assaulted once twice a day for almost every day of the nine months she was gone.”

Smart is now on a mission to rescue children from sex trafficking.  He’s working with Operation Underground Railroad – a nonprofit group traveling around the world to save kids forced into the sex trade.

“It is more common,” Smart said.  “Any time you have a resort area more than likely trafficking is going on there. Any time there’s a big sporting event in the United States you can believe trafficking is going on.”

Operation Underground Railroad has produced a new documentary called “The Abolitionists.”  It shows investigators rescuing endangered children and going after the adult perpetrators around the world.

“Usually when an operation starts we start working with the U.S. Embassy and we determine who are the vetted law enforcement agencies that we can trust,” Smart said. “In a number of countries where they have laws that have never been implemented this will be the first time the prosecutions of those pimps has actually happened.”

Authorities estimate two million children worldwide are being trafficked for sex.

Smart said it’s happening here and the film gives parents a chance to speak with their own kids about the problem.

For Smart this project is personal as he honors his own daughter who survived the unthinkable.

“Elizabeth is great,” Smart said.  “She just had a baby girl named Chloe about three months ago. We want all of those people that have been victimized out there to be survivors.  We want them to find their dreams and find that new hope in life that helps them become the best and the most they can be.”

“The Abolitionists” will be shown at Fat Cats movie theatre in Rexburg on Thursday,  May 28 at 5:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 7:45 p.m., and 8.15 p.m..  Admission is free and a question and answer session will follow each screening.

To watch the entire uncut interview with Smart, click here.

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