Man accused of trying to attack Smart at ISU jailed

Claude Hudson

A Terre Haute man who was handling a knife and trying to get closer to guest speaker Elizabeth Smart at an Indiana State University event Monday has been charged with battery for punching a police officer who stopped him from approaching Smart.

Claude F. Hudson, 80, was seen acting oddly at a book signing by Smart in the Heritage Lounge at Tirey Hall, police said. Smart was on campus to speak about her ordeal of being abducted in 2002.

Hudson appeared Wednesday in Vigo Superior Court 5, where Judge Michael Rader ordered a mental health evaluation. Hudson has a lengthy criminal history that includes a 1991 conviction for attempted murder in Nevada.

Hudson was outspoken in court, demanding he be allowed to represent himself. Rader ordered Hudson held in lieu of $25,000 bond, no 10 percent allowed. He set a May 9 trial date.

According to a probable cause affidavit, ISU Police Capt. Ian Loomis said he saw Hudson handling a folding knife and turning toward Smart several times.

Hudson closed the knife and placed it into a pocket, then moved “in a dedicated and determined fashion” toward Smart, who was seated at a table signing books.

Loomis reported he tried to stop Hudson, who struck Loomis twice in the midsection. Loomis blocked a third strike and removed Hudson from the area to be questioned. The knife was taken from Hudson.

ISU Police Chief Joe Newport said Loomis was the only officer on duty at the event. It is common to only have one officer assigned to a speaker, unless there is a known reason for more security, Newport said.

Smart was aware of the incident, but was in no danger from Hudson, police report.

Newport said a background check showed Hudson had a criminal history dating back more than 50 years, including arrests in Illinois, Nevada, Missouri, Tennessee and California. Hudson is currently on probation in Vigo Superior Court 6 on a burglary conviction.

Smart was 14 years old when she was abducted at knifepoint from her bedroom in Salt Lake City and forced to take part in a bizarre “marriage” ceremony. She was raped repeatedly and held in chains for long periods before being rescued by police.

Now 29, she speaks about her nine-month ordeal as an advocate for victims and legislative change.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.

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Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With more than 30 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.