Elizabeth Smart’s dad: 1 police theory for abduction was blackmail “because I was gay”

Ed Smart, father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, was forced into the public eye in 2002 when his daughter was abducted from her Salt Lake City bedroom in the middle of the night. She was 14 years old.

Back then, Smart used his voice to fight for her miraculous rescue. Now he’s sharing his own story.

In our exclusive interview, Smart reveals how difficult it was to come out as gay to his family and friends – and how it’s affected his relationship with his children.

“The thing about it is I never looked at myself as being gay. I know this sounds crazy,” Smart told “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King.

“I remember guys that kind of came up to me, and I just thought, you know, ‘Please just get away. You know, this is not me. This is not me,'” Smart added. “And I felt like, you know, this is not where I want my life to go. I’ve, you know, gone on a mission, I’ve, you know, I’m trying to do what I’m supposed to do.”

“According to the church,” King said.

“According to the church,” he responded.
For decades, Smart was tormented with an inner truth he did not want to tell, including during the investigation of his daughter’s abduction, which dominated news coverage at the time. Elizabeth was kidnapped in June 2002 and rescued nine months later, found only a few miles from her Utah home. Smart said he was worried his secret would be revealed.
“You know here we are the front page of the Enquirer,” Smart said.

“So did the police at one point view you as a suspect?” King asked.

“The thing is, when a child goes missing, the first ones that they have to look at is the family,” Smart responded.

He explained one of the theories police had about Elizabeth’s abduction: “They potentially thought that somebody was blackmailing me… because I was gay.”

“That somehow I was having this gay affair, which was absolutely not,” Smart said. “In my mind, I thought, ‘I’ve lost Elizabeth, and now I’m losing Lois, and I’m losing my family.’ Everything that really means anything to me. How can it be that I have this thing inside of me that I can’t get rid of?”
Now 64 and divorced, Smart came out with the truth he had been hiding for most of his life a year ago. He said his family is still processing and acknowledged it must have been shocking for them.

“What is your relationship with your children today?” King asked.

“I do have a relationship with my children. I know that they’re processing this, they’re, you know, probably struggling through this,” Smart said. “It’s not an easy thing. But I do feel their love. And I’m very, very grateful for that.” 

Watch more of Ed Smart’s interview at 8 a.m. ET/PT today on “CBS This Morning.”

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