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Masha Allen (born МарияНиколаевна Яшенкова, (Russian:Mariya Nikolaevna Yashenkova)), born August 25, 1992 in Novoshakhtinsk, Russia, is a girl previously known only as Disney World Girl, Internet Girl or Internet Porn Girl. She has appeared in almost 200 sexually explicit images that are distributed on the Internet worldwide.
Born August 25, 1992
Other names Mariya Nikolaevna Yashenkova
For a long time, police feared she was still being abused in the manner depicted.
Canadian authorities had mounted an effort to find her that took the unusual step of digitally removing her from the photos in the hope that someone would be able to identify the setting. Very quickly they learned where they had been taken, but the girl's identity remained unknown until another database match in the United States found that she had been removed from her home two years earlier. Police say the case points to the need for better coordination of visual databases of child pornography victims, especially internationally.
Allen has since become an advocate for stricter penalties for downloading child porn and has appeared on several popular television programs and testified before Congress.
1 The images
2 Masha found
3 Mancuso sentenced
4 Life Story
4.1 How did it happen?
5 Similar Cases
5.1 David Charles Gilmore
6 Controversy over PrimeTime segment
7 Masha's Law
8 January 2006 media appearances
8.2 Nancy Grace
9 Testimony before Congress
10 Second congressional hearing
12 External links
13 See also
The search began when the Sex Crimes Unit of the Toronto Police Service repeatedly found images of the same girl on the hard drives of many of the child pornography
offenders they arrested. They had her digitally removed from some of the images and then released them to the public in 2004 to see if any of the locations depicted could be identified. This information would be a strong lead in finding the girl, whom authorities feared was still in danger.
Within a short time, the location depicted in the images was identified, chiefly through the fountains in the background of one shot, as having been taken at the Port Orleans Resort at Walt Disney World in Florida. Police went further in May 2005 and released another photo of a small girl playing a handheld video game, whom they believed was not a victim but a possible material witness.
Three months later the hunt ended when a search through child pornography photo databases found a match. The girl, only eight years old at the time the photographs were taken, was a Russian orphan, who had been adopted in 1998 by Michigan-born Matthew Mancuso, a 46-year-old retired engineer from Plum, Pennsylvania for the express purpose of molesting her and using her to produce pornographic photos, which he would then share with others.
Once found, she was removed from his custody. Mancuso is serving a 15-year federal prison sentence after being arrested and convicted in 2003 of distributing child pornography online. Allen has since been placed with a new family.
The dark-haired girl in the later photo was found to be a friend of hers, one of the few friends she was allowed to have. Allen herself had photographed the friend when Mancuso let her use the camera. Mancuso never abused the other girl sexually.
On August 23, 2003 Mancuso was found guilty of 11 sexual abuse-related charges in a stipulated non-jury trial in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court in which he offered no defense and did not contest the charges, an unusual proceeding known as a "slow guilty plea." However, in Pennsylvania, by offering no defense, he preserves his right to appeal the prosecution later. His lawyer, Stanley Greenfield, said he planned to do exactly that since it had been more than a year since Mancuso had initially been arrested, violating his right to a speedy trial.
On November 17, 2004 he was sentenced to 35 to 70 years, which will only begin once his federal sentence is completed. Florida prosecutors, too, may still seek further charges.
Allen was born in 1992 in Novoshakhtinsk, a small town near Rostov-on-Don, Russia. Her biological father left her mother to raise her on her own. The woman was an alcoholic and stabbed Allen in the neck at the age of three, forcing police to remove her from the house and put her in the local orphanage.
Her mother visited occasionally, and told Allen she would be able to return home soon, but eventually Allen was told she would instead be among a group of children to be adopted by American families. She was hopeful that her life would improve, although slightly disappointed that she would have only a father (Mancuso was a single man).
However, after going to the United States with him, she learned of his true plans for her. Mancuso made her sleep with him naked on her first night in his house and began regularly raping her shortly afterward, forcing her to share his shower as well and barring her from eating “junk food”, pasta and raw vegetables in favor of peanut butter sandwiches to keep her weight down and delay the onset of puberty. She reported later that he even made her go through a mock wedding with him.
After he had begun sexually abusing her, he began to take pictures of her, she said later. At first they were typical pictures with nothing unusual or explicit, with her fully clothed, but gradually he began to photograph her in her underwear, then completely naked and finally performing sexual acts. At one point, she said, he even chained her to the wall in his basement for some pictures with BDSM overtones.
He kept her from resistance with threats not to talk to anyone, and rewarded her participation in photography sessions with toys and video games, as well as an annual trip to Disney World.
This went on for five years until FBI agents arrested Mancuso at his house in 2003. Mike Zaglifa, a police sergeant in the Chicago suburb of Palos Heights, had given Mancuso's IP address to them after going undercover and trading pictures with Mancuso online.
They had not expected to find him living with a child, and Allen quickly told the police what he had been doing with her. She was removed and readopted by Faith Allen (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04135/316220.stm) , a single woman named for Allegheny criminal court judge Cheryl Allen, who reportedly experienced similar abuse in her own childhood. She stated that she gave up her job as a foster parent to concentrate on Allen alone. They have since moved to the Atlanta area.
How did it happen?
Many people wondered how Mancuso was allowed to adopt the girl in the first place. While he did not have a previous criminal record as a sex offender, single men are very rarely allowed to adopt unrelated girls. An American adoption agency completed the adoption in Russia. New-Jersey-based Reaching Out through International Adoption (ROTIA) had limited involvement in providing travel assistance to Mancuso prior to finalization. Pittsburgh-based Family Adoption Council, Inc. completed the home study on Mancuso and issued a letter to Russian officials agreeing to provide post-placement reporting for a minimum of three years.
However, Nancy Simpronio, the Pittsburgh-area social worker who had done the original home study required for the adoption, never did the post-placement reporting, and at the time Russia had no provision for enforcing that regulation (since then, foreign adoption agencies that fail to provide those reports run the risk of losing their accreditation to operate in Russia). A post-placement report would have revealed that Allen had no bedroom of her own at Mancuso's house and slept with him, among other things. Unfortunately, the law affords limited enforcement powers for agencies, who uniformly have problems gaining compliance from adoptive families after they return to their home country, if the family does not choose to comply with post-placement obligations voluntarily.
Prior to the adoption, Simpronio also failed to contact Mancuso's ex-wife or his biological daughter, Rachelle, despite being aware of them. Mancuso had sexually abused Rachelle regularly and had had no contact with her since she was 13, and Rachelle says she would have told anyone who had asked about it. Tom Atwood, of the National Council for Adoption, addressed this issue on a December 1, 2005 segment of PrimeTime stating that the home study was "typical" and in accordance with recognized standards of practice. Currently, it is not standard practice when completing a home study to contact ex-spouses or children who will not reside in the adoptive home, due to possible biases which may exist between ex-spouses.
Rachelle told ABC News correspondent John Quinones on a program devoted to Allen that she feels considerable guilt over what happened to her onetime half-sister and her inability to prevent it when she heard her father had adopted a young girl (She was able to apologize to Allen in person later).
Jeannene Smith, founder of (ROTIA) has since cofounded a lobbying group called Focus on Adoption which lobbies on behalf of agencies that primarily do international adoptions. She has not commented on the case publicly, citing confidentiality laws. Authorities in Pennsylvania have promised to review the circumstances surrounding the adoption.
Despite strong and repeated denials from the international adoption community, Masha and international adoption critics have discovered other children in the same situation whose plight remains largely unknown.
William D. Peckenpaugh
Just weeks after the PrimeTime segment aired, William D. Peckenpaugh was sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexually abusing a boy he adopted from Romania. The sexual abuse, which lasted for four years, started within weeks after Peckenpaugh arrived home with the boy in Oregon.
Peckenpaugh, who was an avowed and active nudist, wrote a paper entitled "Familial and Societal Attitudes Toward Nudity, and the Effects on Children's Development" which is quoted frequently by nudists and naturists and makes the claim that naturist children are less sexually active and more emotionally healthy than non-naturist children. Nikki Craft, an American political activist, artist, writer and radical feminist, reported on Peckenpaugh, and has argued for many years that children are not safe in naturist and nudist environments.
Like Mancuso, Peckenpaugh was a single man, although he had never married.
In a curious coincidence, the executive director of ROTIA at the time of Mancuso's adoption of Masha, Marlene Seamans-Conn, also had a connection to the naturist world. Her sister, Antoinette Egbert, who died in 1995, was president of the Tri-State Metro Naturists (New York/New Jersey/Connecticut) and chairperson of Government Affairs of the Eastern Sunbathing Association. Mrs. Egbert was also the chairperson of the Naturist Action Committee and the government liaison to the National Parks Service.
David Charles Gilmore
In June 2005, a pastor from St. Paul, Oregon, named David Charles Gilmore, was sentenced in Marion County Circuit Court to 19 years for sexually abusing a nine-year-old girl he adopted from Russia in 2002. In September 2005, Gilmore was sentenced to an additional 11 years by Yamhill County Circuit Court Judge Cal Tichenor. (http://www.newsregister.com/news/results.cfm?story_no=198911) Gilmore was subject to two separate trials because he had resided in both Marion and Yamhill Counties at the time that he molested his adopted daughter. Under Oregon's Measure 11 statutes, Gilmore will be ineligible for parole at any time during his sentence.
In 2003, Gilmore's then-six-year-old daughter told her mother that a family friend had molested her while they lived in Washington and Yamhill Counties. The accused, Timothy James Warrens, then a teenager, was a member of a church youth group led by Gilmore. Warrens spent seven months in jail awaiting trial because his father, Hewitt Warrens, could not afford to post bail. Warrens was acquitted in both trials.
During Timothy Warrens' trials, Hewitt Warrens said he believed that the accusation stemmed from child sex-play between the girl and her brother. After Gilmore was arrested for molesting his adopted daughter, the Warrens family said they believed that Gilmore himself was responsible for the molestation Timothy was accused of. Shortly after Gilmore's arrest, Timothy Warrens, then living in Nevada, filed suit in federal court against many of the investigating officers and prosecutors in both Washington and Yamhill Counties. The court later dismissed the suit. (http://www.newberggraphic.com/news/archive/2-5-05/NewsStory3.htm)
David Gilmore is a gifted pianist and cellist who was also a music teacher and associate pastor. In 2001 and 2002, he and his wife sought and received donations from the community to adopt the children. He also performed concerts of Russian music to raise funds.
Unlike Mancuso and Peckenpaugh, Gilmore was married and had four biological and three adopted children from Russia. During his trial, Gilmore's wife divorced him. Soon after he was convicted, she and her children went into seclusion in another state.
Controversy over PrimeTime Segment
For several weeks prior to the airing of the PrimeTime segment, international adoption agencies in the United States and advocates for them had mounted an email campaign urging ABC to reconsider airing it at that time, fearing that it would equate international adoption from Russia with the trafficking of children for sexual purposes.
At that time they were also actively lobbying the Russian government against imposing a moratorium on future adoptions of orphans by Americans. Earlier in 2005, some members of the Russian Duma had talked of imposing one after a Chicago-area woman, Irma Pavlis, was convicted of manslaughter in the abuse death of her Russian-born son Alex, and Peggy Sue Hilt, a North Carolina woman, was arrested and charged in Manassas, Virginia after the death of her daughter Nina over the July 4 holiday weekend — the twelfth and thirteenth such deaths to have led to criminal charges since Americans began adopting Russian orphans in 1991.
The advocates feared that the story would inflame public opinion in Russia just enough to make a moratorium likely to pass or be otherwise imposed. However, details of Allen's adoption and Mancuso's conviction had been known in Russia for some time previously, and no backlash developed.
Supporters of Allen also argued that it seemed as though the advocates were trying to keep her from speaking out to serve their own purposes, and that it was a cruel thing to do to a girl who had suffered so much already. In response, advocates claimed they had no intention of preventing her from speaking out; they merely wanted to make sure the story was fair and reported that such cases were highly unusual.
Allen herself, in fact, wrote to Russian president Vladimir Putin urging him not to restrict adoptions because of her case.
On January 6, 2006, Allen appeared in Boston with Democratic U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry at a news conference to draw attention to "Masha's Law," a bill he had introduced after hearing of her case. It would triple the penalties for those who download child pornography from the Internet. Previously, Kerry noted, they had been less severe than the penalties for downloading unlicensed music files. The law would also allow children used in such images to sue those who downloaded them once they reached adulthood.
At this conference her last name, Allen, was revealed for the first time.
January 2006 Media Appearances
Allen appeared on the January 17, 2006 Oprah Winfrey Show, beginning a week of media related to her case. She recounted her history again, adding some more details of Mancuso's abuse. Some of the less graphic pictures Mancuso took were shown for the first time on television.
Rachelle and Masha met in person for the first time on the show. She tearfully apologized to Allen for not having had the courage to speak up (however, she had thought that he was adopting a boy and only learned a few months before his arrest that he had adopted a girl), and the two embraced. Sgt. Zaglifa, too, appeared on the show and accepted Allen's gratitude for the investigation that led to Mancuso's arrest.
The following day Allen, Faith, several other people associated with the case and Boston Herald reporter Kevin Rothstein appeared on Nancy Grace's show on CNN Headline News. The hostess reviewed the facts and expressed her outrage to Rothstein that Mancuso serving his federal sentence at Devens Federal Medical Center in Massachusetts, with access to recreation and what she believed to be good food. Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson also appeared to promote the bill he and Kerry had sponsored to increase penalties for downloading child porn.
Attorney, James R. Marsh, and adoption-reform lobbyist Maureen Flatley discussed the progress of civil litigation they planned to file against the agency that performed the homestudy and the adoption agencies involved.
Testimony before Congress
On May 3, 2006, Allen testified, along with Grace, before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearings on Internet child porn. She recounted her story and named all the agencies that had made Mancuso's adoption of her possible. “They never really checked him out”, she said, alleging that the adoption agency showed Mancuso nude pictures of her. She echoed Grace's complaint that the federal prison system had put Mancuso in a comfortable prison hospital in what she called a futile attempt to rehabilitate him.
"No one cared about rehabilitating me. I just lost my Medicaid and my mom has to work double hard to pay for the things I need while Matthew lays around the hospital playing games."
Pointing to the continued circulation of the pictures Mancuso took, and adding that she and her lawyer don't know for certain that he is no longer profiting from them, she called on Congress to pass the bill Kerry had introduced.
Second Congressional Hearing
On September 27, 2006, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a second hearing on the adoption and how it was allowed to happen, at which Smith, Wallace and others involved testified. It found that Mancuso had apparently submitted a forged postplacement report, as the committee's staff was unable to locate the agency or social worker claimed to be responsible.
In preparing for the hearing, Smith "attempted to mislead [them] about her role in Masha's adoption and withheld documents in an attempt to minimize her role", said then-chairman Rep. Ed Whitfield.
Other members of the subcommittee were dissatisfied with the answers she gave to their questions at the hearing itself. Smith repeatedly said other employees of her agency handled the routine details of Allen's adoption and dealt directly with him. When Rep. Mike Ferguson asked her directly if she was responsible for the adoption, she replied "I think we all were". After Ferguson retorted that some people in the hearing room were more responsible than others, Smith would only concede "I think we had a role in it, yes" (All Mancuso's checks were made out to ROTIA). Whitfield was incredulous that Smith, the head of the agency, could not even give him a rough estimate of its annual revenues.
1. Masha Allen (2006-05-03). "Testimony submitted by Masha Allen to the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (http://energycommerce.house.gov/reparchives/108/Hearings/05032006hearing...)" (PDF). United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Retrieved on 2007-04-25.
2. United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations; September 27, 2006; Sexual Exploitation of Children Over the Internet: Follow-Up to the Masha Allen Adoption (http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_house_hear...) ; retrieved May 8, 2007; 1.
3. Ibid., 45.
4. Ibid., 58.
Plum man guilty of abusing adoptee (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05236/558935.stm)
Adopted Russian Girl Sees Father Convicted (http://www.mosnews.com/news/2005/08/24/childabuse.shtml)
Child abuse 'monster' gets 35-70 years (http://pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/trib/pittsburgh/s_395759.html)
Child porn victim takes fight public (http://torontosun.com/News/World/2005/12/02/1333683-sun.html)
Heroic Young Girl Tells of Her Child Porn Ordeal (http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/LegalCenter/story?id=1364110): PrimeTime segment, December 1, 2005.
Kerry Introduces Legislation To Fight Child Porn (http://cbs4boston.com/local/local_story_006110744.html)
Meet Masha (http://www.oprah.com/tows/slide/200601/20060117/slide_20060117_284_201.j...), The Oprah Winfrey Show, January 17, 2006
Sit-Down with a Molestation Survivor (http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0612/18/ng.01.html), Nancy Grace, January 18, 2006.