exposing the dark side of adoption
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Sexual Assault Victimization Across the Life Span


“The Internet Porn Girl” and Masha’s Law.

Mike Zaglifa, a suburban Chicago police sergeant working undercover, began trading images with a pornographer that provided horrific images of child sexual abuse. Zaglifa gave his correspondent’s IP address to the FBI, which traced the IP address to Matthew Mancuso, a wealthy, retired 46-year-old engineer living in a Pittsburgh suburb. Local police went to arrest Mancuso for purveying child pornography in 2003. They were surprised to find a little girl living with him: Masha was nearly 11 but the size of a 5-year-old because she had been malnourished by Mancuso to prevent her from growing and maturing. She immediately disclosed a history of abuse to the police. She was freed, adopted, and Mancuso was prosecuted. Meanwhile, the videos of Mancuso raping Masha were still on the Internet, and the Toronto police were concerned about the fate of the child. They conducted an international search to identify the child in the pornographic images and find her. Digitally removing her image, they released photographs to try to find out where the abuse was taking place: the location was identified as a Disney resort. By the time they finally tracked down the identity of the child in 2004, they learned that Masha had already been removed from her home with Mancuso and safely adopted by a woman.

Now 13, Masha testified before Congress in support of a bill sponsored by John Kerry and told her story. Masha was adopted from a Russian orphanage when she was 5 by Mancuso, a divorced father of two. The adoption agencies failed to investigate the cause of the alienation of his daughters: He had molested them until they reached puberty. When Mancuso took his new daughter home, he made her sleep in his bed and began molesting her; eventually he began to rape her and photograph her. The more than 200 pornographic images he distributed on the Internet were a hot commodity. Referring not only to the pornography but also to the fact that Mancuso found the adoption agencies and her picture on the Internet, Masha testified, “The Internet is everywhere in my story. You need to do something right away,” and, because the pictures of her rapes are still being downloaded years after her abuser is in prison, “the abuse is still going on.” She said she is more upset about the continued consumption of those images than about the physical abuse. The Kerry-Isakson bill triples the civil damages that child Internet porn victims can recover from $50,000 to at least $150,000 (the penalty for downloading songs off the internet) and allows victims to sue after they have turned 18 if pornographic images of them as children are still being distributed (Kerry, Isakson Push for Tougher Penalties, 2005; Masha’s Story, 2006; Wikipedia, 2006).

Children can be harmed by pornography either through being forcibly exposed to it or by being filmed or photographed. Reviewing 1,202 prosecuted child sexual exploitation cases in the United States, Estes and Weiner (2001) found that 62% of the cases involved child pornography. These cases were split between those in which children were the subjects (370 cases) and those in which children were involuntarily exposed to child pornography (372 cases). The vast majority of these pornography cases were concentrated in three states: California (41%), Texas (31%), and New York (20%). As a side note, less than 5% of the children in pornographic images have been identified.

2007 Jan 22