Internet Child Porn Victim Talks About Ordeal
Adoptive Father Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A young girl whose haunting image became an international symbol of Internet child sex abuse is talking about her ordeal for the first time.
Victim Of Internet Child Porn Recalls Ordeal
She was the subject of a series of pictures taken at a Walt Disney World resort that resulted in a worldwide search for the girl, WESH 2's Bob Kealing reported.
Because of the nature of the crime and the victim's age, she is not being named, and her adoptive mother is only being identified using her first name.
The girl, who we'll call Mea, is now safe, and she told Kealing her abuser has not been held accountable for many of the things he did to her.
Mea is 12 years old. Her favorite color is purple, and her pet hamster's name is B.J.
"One day, I was watching a show ... It was on the Discovery Channel. That was right after I got him. It was about hamsters, and we were sitting there watching it," Mea said.
The insightful and funny sixth-grader has been through hell.
"When she was in Russia with her parents, she was stabbed in the back of the neck, where she still has scars," said Faith, Mea's adoptive mother.
The sexual abuse victim was seen in pictures believed to have been taken at a Disney resort. More Images
Russian authorities moved Mea to an orphanage. New hope soon followed when an American from Pittsburgh saw 5-year-old Mea and decided to adopt her. But her savior was just another monster.
"He brought her over here specifically to abuse her?" Kealing asked.
"She said everything started the same day," Faith said.
Faith said Mea was a virtual slave for six years. She was forced to have sex against her will, and it didn't stop there. Mea's abuser took sexually explicit photos of her in arcades and hotel elevators.
"She knew it wasn't normal. She was scared. He told her no one would believe her. She thought there was no way out of it," Faith said.
The abuser sold hundreds of images of his own adoptive daughter to Internet pedophiles. Some were taken during Orlando vacations.
"My daughter told me that they went to Disney every year. They went quite often," Faith said.
"So it happened year in and year out?" Kealing asked.
"He also did things like this at his home," Faith said.
The FBI finally unmasked Mea's monster two years ago. In February 2004, a judge sentenced Pittsburgh engineer Matthew Alan Mancuso to 15 years in prison for producing child pornography of his own daughter, but Mancuso has not been tried for raping her.
"I think it's wrong he didn't get charged with half the things he did, and I don't think that should happen to anybody," Mea said.
"She's scarred for life, and her pictures are on the Internet, and they can't be stopped. There's no way of stopping them completely ... How do you tell a 12-year-old her picture is all over the Internet?" Faith said.
A few months ago, Mea and Faith packed up and moved hundreds of miles from Pittsburgh.
"How do you like it down here?" Kealing asked.
"I love it down here," Mea said.
Her mother says Mea is well aware of how difficult it's going to be to bring her abuser to justice, and for that, they'll both lean on the faith that's gotten them both through so much already.
"Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress, where my enemies can't reach me," Mea said while reciting Psalm 1:28:32 from the Bible.
"Since I know I have people that are backing me up and are there for me, it makes things easier because I know that they're there for me, so with them I can do anything," Mea said.
The child who came to symbolize the plight of all victims of child pornographers said she's fine now and happy. Scars and all, Mea has walked through fire and found love on the other side.
A judge in Pittsburgh ordered Mancuso to set up a $200,000 trust fund for Mea's education. She's a straight-A student now. Mancuso's scheduled release date is January 2017. When that time comes, Mea will still be only 23 years old.
To comment on this story, send an e-mail to Bob Kealing.