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Ex-kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart holds out hope for Baby Lisa

October 18, 2011 |  4:38 pm

Elizabeth_Smart
Elizabeth Smart, 23, says she believes Baby Lisa is still alive.

As a Salt Lake City teenager, Smart was kidnapped from her home in the middle of the night and raped repeatedly during nine months of captivity. After her rescue, she testified against the captors who had threatened to kill her and her family if she did not comply.

That testimony led to lengthy prison terms for the couple who abducted her.

Smart continues to recover from that 2002 ordeal and now attends classes at Brigham Young University. She is contemplating a career in law. She's also become an outspoken advocate for kidnap victims -- and offered up hope, via a People magazine interview, in the latest abduction case gripping the country: the disappearance of Baby Lisa.

"I think she's alive," Smart said. "She's so young, and I feel like -- maybe I'm just an eternal optimist -- I always hope that whomever is kidnapped or disappears is still alive, and so I think the most important thing is to press forward with this using as much force and power as you can, and continue the search efforts, continuing on and not giving up."

The interview did not address recent comments by Kansas City Police Capt. Steve Young suggesting that the parents, Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin, haven't fully cooperated with police. The couple are now represented by a high-profile criminal defense attorney.

"The last time that the mom and dad sat down with detectives to answer questions about things they might only know was Oct. 8," Young told ABCNews.com. Since then, the parents have spoken to police only to clarify information about tips, he said.

Bradley and Irwin say they are cooperating with police but will no longer put up with the accusatory line of questioning.

The parents told Kansas City police that the 10-month-old vanished from her crib on Oct. 4. The mother has faced stepped-up criticism after acknowledging that she was drinking so heavily the night of the disappearance that she might have blacked out.

As the investigation enters its third week, hundreds of law enforcement officers and volunteers are combing through tips and searching the area for any sign of the child. Authorities have even drained a lake near the parents' home and dismantled an abandoned well in efforts to locate her.

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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Elizabeth Smart speaks about the importance of safety empowerment for children during a recent gathering in Atlanta. Credit: Associated Press

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