Elizabeth Smart is upset the registered sex offender who helped abduct her when she was a teenager is living near a Utah elementary school.
“Whether a person is deemed a current threat or if they have a history of child abuse, neglect, sexual violence, etc., prudent measures should be taken, including housing them as far away as possible from schools, families and community centers,” Smart said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press.
According to Utah’s sex offender registry, Wanda Barzee, 73, is living in a Salt Lake City apartment located about one-tenth of a mile from Parkview Elementary School. The school has students from kindergarten through fifth grade.
Smart was 14 in June 2002, when she was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home by Barzee and her then-husband, Brian Mitchell. Smart was held captive for nine months, during which time she was threatened and sexually abused. Her ordeal ended in March 2003 when a viewer of “America’s Most Wanted” spotted the trio in Sandy, Utah, and notified police.
Mitchell is serving a life sentence for kidnapping and raping Smart. Barzee was paroled in September after serving less than a decade behind bars. She was released despite refusing to take a psychological exam while incarcerated.
“It is incomprehensible how someone who has not cooperated with her mental health evaluations or risk assessments and someone who did not show up to her own parole hearing can be released into our community,” Smart said at the time.
Barzee, who is required to be under federal supervision for the next five years, does not appear to be violating any laws with her current living arrangements. The conditions of her release do not specify how close she can live to a school, according to The Associated Press.
Utah state law does require registered sex offenders whose victims were 18 or younger not to live within 500 feet of schools. However, Mapquest indicates the shortest route from Barzee’s apartment to the elementary school is roughly 528 feet.
Still, Smart, now 31 and married with three children, would like to see individuals such as Barzee kept farther away from places frequented by children.
“Every possible caution and protection should be taken when it comes to protecting our children,” Smart told the AP.
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