Jessica Smith, the 11-year-old Fort Worth girl who was the focus of an Amber Alert, admitted that her mother concocted a story about her father molesting her, which enraged her mother and led to the nationwide search, the father’s attorney said Monday.
The Smiths are in the middle of a nasty divorce and child custody fight.
NBC 5 has learned the girl made the admission to a school counselor on the same day police said her mother, Kimberly Smith, assaulted her and then disappeared with her that night.
Arrest warrants and affidavits claim Smith attempted to smother her daughter and threatened to kill Jessica and herself the day before Jessica was abducted. Read the full documents here.
The two were found Sunday, hungry and exhausted, in a remote area of northern New Mexico, police said.
Jessica’s father, Phillip Smith, was charged with assault after the girl made the graphic allegations that he had assaulted her.
Phillip Smith’s attorney, Tom Pappas, of Dallas, said he expected prosecutors to drop the case as early as Tuesday.
"Clearly, the mom ran because she forced Jessica to fabricate these allegations and was about to be uncovered -- or had been uncovered,” Pappas said.
Melody McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, said the charges still stand but the new information is being reviewed.
NBC 5 doesn't usually name alleged victims of sexual assault. But in this case, Jessica Smith recanted the allegations, and the revelation sheds new light on what led to the Amber Alert.
"It's unfortunate her mom put her through this and put her center in all this stuff and then did the crazy stuff she did,” Pappas said. “We're glad she's all right."
Jessica Smith will stay with grandparents for now, but her father hopes to regain custody within days, the attorney said. Jessica was released to the custody of family members late Monday night.
"He loves his daughter,” Pappas said. “The only thing he wanted is she's safe. As long as she's safe, everything else can be resolved."
Fort Worth police are awaiting the extradition of Kimberly Smith, who is being held in New Mexico.