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Detective Could Have Saved Elizabeth Smart If He Wasn't Afraid of Being Labeled 'Insensitive'

In March of 2003, Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her bedroom. She was then subjected to nine months of brutal torture, rape, and imprisonment by Brian David Mitchell and his female accomplice Wanda Barzee. During the trial in 2010, there was a surprising revelation that wasn't reported much by the mainstream media.

It was revealed that Salt Lake Detective Jon Richey could have saved Smart only two months into her ordeal, but he didn’t because she had on a niqab. An unidentified good Samaritan was in a library in Salt Lake when she noticed a strange-looking man with a beard accompanied by a young girl in a niqab and an older woman.

The woman thought the girl's eyes looked similar to Smart's, so she called the police. When Det. Richey approached the three, he asked the man, later identified as Mitchell, if he could look under the young girl’s niqab, and Mitchel insisted he couldn’t because it would violate his religious beliefs.

Richey kept pressing, and Mitchell kept refusing. So, Richey gave in and did not look under Smart's niqab. His decision led to Smart enduring another seven months of unfathomable abuse and captivity.

Richey's testimony concluded “There is nothing I would have done differently." Of the incident, Smart said, “I felt like hope was walking out the door…. I felt terrible that the detective could just walk away.”

In July 2002, one month before Detective Richey encountered Mitchell and Smart, a state law called HB 101 went into effect. The law was pushed through by Utah Democrats, specifically Rep. Duane Bordeaux, that monitored officers to ensure that they were not acting in a “racist” or “insensitive” manner when conducting “discretionary stops." In 2007, the law was not renewed.

Photo: NBC News, Off2Dr

Officer was too afraid of being insensitive, could've saved Smart much earlier.

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