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NEW YORK – ABC News has hired Elizabeth Smart as a contributor, the network confirmed.
Smart – who was abducted in 2002 from her Salt Lake City, Utah home and held for eight months – will appear across ABC News platforms to comment on missing persons cases.
“She’ll help our viewers better understand missing person stories from someone with the perspective to know what a family experiences when a loved one goes missing,” said ABC News spokesperson Julie Townsend.
Townsend stressed that Smart, who has become an advocate for tougher missing persons legislation, will be focused on “looking ahead, not looking back at her own story.”
Indeed, Smart’s story has been well-told. Her family published a book about her ordeal. She was interviewed by former NBC News anchor Katie Couric for a Dateline NBC special soon after she was found. She went on Oprah, Larry King Live and even E! for a special called Young, Beautiful & Vanished: 15 Unthinkable Crimes. And CBS adapted the Smart’s book for a TV movie in 2003.
Townsend said that the news division has been in discussions with Smart for some time. She would not say whether Smart, 23, would relocate to New York from Utah, where she attends Brigham Young University.
Smart is expected to make her debut on ABC News in the next couple weeks. But Townsend said she will not appear in ABC News’ two-hour special about another famous kidnap victim: Jaycee Dugard.
Dugard was kidnapped in California in 1991. She was held hostage for 18 years and bore two children by her kidnapper.
Dugard’s interview with Diane Sawyer will air Sunday. It is timed to the release of Dugard’s memoir, A Stolen Life, from Simon & Schuster, which is a division of CBS Corp.
Townsend said that ABC News several years ago paid a license fee to Dugard for photos and videos. But Sawyer’s interview did not come with a new licensing agreement.
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