Child-Porn Victim Brings Her Story to Washington

ByABC News

Aug. 31, 2006 — -- There are approximately 3 million images of child pornography on the Internet.

As large as that number may seem, it can be a sad, abstract and faceless statistic.

In May, Masha Allen, a Russian-born 13-year-old, put a face on child pornography and its victims when she testified before Congress.

She revealed the horrific pain behind those numbers in written testimony that described her experiences as a victim of online child molestation and pornography.

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Masha thought she was heading for a better life in America when she was adopted in 1998 by Matthew Mancuso, who brought the 8-year-old to his home in Pittsburgh.

Instead, she became a victim of child pornography as Mancuso adopted her with the purpose of molesting her and using her to produce pornographic photos, which he would then share with others.

She appeared in more than 200 explicit photos that circulated on the Internet.

Masha's image caught the attention of authorities, who ultimately tracked her down and arrested Mancuso, removing her from his custody.

He was convicted in 2003 of distributing child pornography online and received a 35-year prison sentence on federal pornography charges, while facing additional charges.

Masha is now safe and with a new family. Mancuso is in prison.

She told Congress' Energy and Commerce Committee at its fourth such hearing this year that her horror hadn't ended.

"Because Matthew put my pictures on the Internet, the abuse is still going on," she said to legislators.

"You have to do something about the Internet," she wrote. "Matthew found the adoption agency on the Internet. They let him look at my pictures from Russia on the Internet even though they didn't really know anything about him."

"Matthew put my pictures on the Internet after he got me. People are still downloading them even though he has been in prison for two years," Masha said.

Masha first told her story to "Primetime" in an effort to help other victims.

She thanked correspondent John Quinones twice in her written testimony to Congress for helping to bring her story "to the whole world."

In her "Primetime" interview, she told ABC News she felt Mancuso "stole" her childhood.

"He took away five years of my life that I could never get back," Masha said.

She also urged other victims to seek help.

"Even if they are afraid to tell somebody, no matter what they think is going to happen, it's going to be for the better," she said. "If they tell somebody, it's going to change."

Masha's courage may now assist lawmakers as they look for ways to combat the growing child-porn industry.

Authorities say one in five children is now approached by online predators in what Congress calls a multibillion-dollar industry.

Nine other people have been convicted in federal court for downloading Masha's pictures.

There are dozens of notices of other pending cases, a number that does not begin to reflect the actual number of potential defendants in criminal and civil cases.

In July, President Bush signed Masha's Law, which dramatically increases the fines and penalties for downloading kiddie porn.

It's part of a larger law called the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, which requires convicted child molesters to be listed on a national Internet database and face a felony charge for failing to update their whereabouts.

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