Victim of child porn, 13, joins legislative fight

Date: 2006-01-07

KEVIN ROTHSTEIN
Boston Herald

Her face is already known to the corrupted minds of child pornographers worldwide, but now 13-year-old Masha Allen is going public to help pass a law opening up child porn purveyors to bigger penalties for their sick practices.

"I know that the abuse stopped,but those pictures are on the Internet and that shouldn't happen to anyone," Allen said at a press conference yesterday with Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). "I'm going public to help other kids because no one should have to go through what I went through, or what thousands of others go through."

Allen has lent her name and her story of horrific abuse to a bill crafted by Kerry and Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia, where Allen now lives. The bill fixes a loophole that had prevented adults from suing those who downloaded images of them as children. It also increases the minimum damages a victim of child pornography can sue for from $50,000 to at least $150,000.

Allen was adopted from Russia in 1998 at age five by a divorced engineer from Pittsburgh, and her abuse began the first night she spent in her new home. She was molested hundreds of times and photographed before police caught up with her adopted father, Matthew Mancuso, five years later.

Mancuso went to jail, but the torment continues to this day for Masha because her pictures are sought out by child porn perverts, who pass them around the world over the Internet. About half of child pornographers worldwide have her image, said Maureen Flatley, an adoption lobbyist who is advocating for Allen. "They have become highly collectible, uniquely collectible in the child porn community," Flatley said.

Kerry said the penalty for illegally downloading music was three times the penalty for downloading kiddie porn now. "Even though Masha's despicable abuser is in jail and awaiting even further sentencing, the damage to Masha continues in a very real way every single day," Kerry said.

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