WASHINGTON, April 25 -


Mr. Speaker, several years ago in Salt Lake City, Utah, there was a happy family--a mom and a dad, six kids--happy as they could be. On the typical summer day of June 5, 2002, the kids and the family had their prayers. Two of the girls went up to their room. The older girl read to the younger girl. They went to sleep.

And then the nightmare began.

In the middle of the night, the older girl, who was a 14-year-old child, was awakened. The man who woke her up had a knife to her throat. The younger girl woke up, too, but was in fear and shock and terror and could not physically even move. So the kidnapper took the 14-year-old girl, climbed out the window with her, and at knifepoint, they left in the middle of the night. Finally, the younger girl was able to get some type of composure and tell her parents what had happened.

The police get involved, and they start looking for Elizabeth Smart, but they didn't find her that night, and they didn't find her the next day because Elizabeth Smart had been kidnapped by an individual who took her to a secluded place. The first thing he wanted to do, of course, was to abuse her--and he did. He sexually assaulted her, and he sexually assaulted her, and he sexually assaulted her. He tied her between two trees, Mr. Speaker, and sexually assaulted her. He did everything he wanted to do to her for 9 months.

That 14-year-old girl was gone, kidnapped--parents scared to death and worried about one of their six children. The police were looking, but they never found her, not for 9 months.

This evil person who kidnapped Elizabeth arranged a fake marriage to try to marry her even though he was married to another individual lawfully. So the wife, the abuser, and Elizabeth Smart stayed in hiding in the Salt Lake City area. The abuser occasionally would leave and take Elizabeth Smart with him, but he would tell her, ``If you ever scream and tell anybody, I will kill your family.''

She believed that. A 14-year-old girl obviously would believe that, so she never cried out because she didn't want anything bad to happen to her wonderful family. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad and the brothers and the sisters every day hoped--but no results in finding her.

When she would go out with the evildoer, forcibly, he would even put a wig over her head and a veil. He would disguise her so that, if people in the Salt Lake City area knew Elizabeth Smart, they wouldn't recognize her.

Finally, after 9 months, Elizabeth Smart was with the evildoer who sexually assaulted her--and with his wife--and a police car stopped. The police officer started questioning Elizabeth Smart. She didn't say anything because she remembered that the evildoer said he would kill her family. Unbeknownst to Elizabeth, her sister had given the police a sketch of the person who had kidnapped her. The police took Elizabeth Smart to the police station, and after a few minutes, in comes her father.

She was rescued after 9 months--The criminals went to prison.

Elizabeth Smart is now 27 years of age, and she has used this awful tragedy of being kidnapped and sexually assaulted as a child in order to help other sexual assault victims in this country. She started the Elizabeth Smart Foundation. A couple of weeks ago, she was in Houston. She spoke very forcefully to a group of women--several hundred--about being abused.

 So, this Victims' Rights Week, Mr. Speaker, I want to honor Elizabeth Smart and all of those other sexual assault victims--especially children--who have been assaulted by evil people in this country, and let us remember to support them totally in their recovery.

 And that's just the way it is.