Child porn victim testifies to U.S. Congress

Date: 2006-05-03

Child porn victim testifies to U.S. Congress

Updated Wed. May. 3 2006 11:14 PM ET News Staff

A young, Russian-born girl whose adoptive father took pornographic pictures of her and posted them online testified to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, detailing her abuse and asking for greater compensation for victims.

Matthew Mancuso adopted Masha Allen from a Russian orphanage when she was five years old, only to bring her back to America for years of abuse. He is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for his crimes.

"He made me dress up in adult clothes, he pretended to marry me, sometimes he kept me chained in the basement," Allen, now 13 years old, told Congress. "Because he didn't want me to grow up he only let me eat a little bit of food.

"I was really mad Matthew didn't get a harder sentence," she said. "Even more upset because pictures of me are on the Internet."

Allen has now teamed up with U.S. lawmakers -- demanding a law that would allow victims to launch lawsuits for copyright infringement against child pornographers who publish their images online .

Toronto's Police Sex Crimes Unit once investigated Mancuso's photographs, searching for clues to his identity, without knowing U.S. police officers had already arrested him in 2003 on other child porn charges.

Toronto police were able to digitally remove Allen from the pictures, which were then released to the public last year, in the hopes that someone would recognize where they had been taken.

One image was pinpointed to the Walt Disney World Resort, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation discovered the picture was taken by Mancuso.

Det. Sgt. Paul Gillespie told Canada AM Thursday "at least fifty per cent of Toronto (child porn) offenders that we've arrested have a picture of her (Allen)."

He added that there are hundreds of thousands of child porn images on the Internet, traded by people around the world. However, it takes time to identify victims and trace where photographs were taken, and child pornographers use new technology to hide online.

"We're getting better, but it's a constant race with technology. The bad guys just grab it anytime anything new comes out, and it's up to us to typically play catch-up," he said.

Gillespie is thankful for the help of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, who gave $4.5 million to help create Canada's Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS).

"The bad guys need to know that we are infiltrating their underworld groups. We are coming and we are starting to make a difference," he told AM.

The system is a large database of information taken from international sources, which allows police to track down criminals using just an e-mail address or Internet alias.

Law enforcement officials around the world now use CETS, ending the torment of children facing similar abuse to Allen, but Gillespie said police need the help of parents too.

"Know what your kids are doing and monitor their activity and if it's not safe, then just say no," he said.

With a report by CTV's Joy Malbon in Washington


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