exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Sex-slave horror prompts new scrutiny


Sex-slave horror prompts new scrutiny

Published: Jan 23, 2006

By Kevin Rothstein

The heart-wrenching case of the millionaire pedophile who adopted a 5-year-old girl to be his sex toy is prompting closer scrutiny of the loosely regulated, big-money adoption industry.

“If we can’t sell blood, we can’t sell organs, why would we be able to sell the entire human being?” asked Maureen Flatley, a Bay State adoption lobbyist who is advising the now 13-year-old victim, Masha Allen.

Masha’s former adopted father, Matthew Mancuso, 47, hand-picked the little girl from a Russian orphanage even though his home didn’t have a bedroom for her. She slept in his bed.

The New Jersey adoption agency that helped expedite the adoption is still in existence, and the Pennsylvania agency that was supposed to visit Mancuso’s home is still in business, albeit under a different name, authorities said.

While the vast majority of adoptions are safe, Flatley is pushing for federal home visit standards. Masha’s story inspired Bay State Sen. John Kerry to file legislation last month increasing civil penalties for child pornographers. He has a niece, Iris, who was adopted from China.

“Adoption doesn’t have to be more difficult for good, caring people, but we must try to find ways to be sure that people like Matthew Mancuso are never able to harm another child,” Kerry said in a statement.

Added state Rep. Marie Parente (D-Milford): “We don’t do a lot of regulating of international adoptions. They’re considered private, they’re not closely regulated.”

Parente, herself a former foster child, has proposed legislation requiring adoption agencies to turn parents’ payments into a bond. That way, if the adoption fails to produce a child the prospective parents get their money back.

Massachusetts is ahead of some states simply by requiring adoption agencies to be licensed, said attorney Henry Bock, director of Children’s Legal Services Inc. But there is plenty of room for improvement here, Bock said.

Comprehensive criminal background checks covering other states, for example, aren’t done in many cases.

“We need good screening. We need to do a national records check,” said Bock. “If we’re assuming it’s a good person who’s going to be a good parent, we need to corroborate that information.”

Another problem, Flatley said, is that local law-enforcement agents don’t enforce the rules already on the books. The file on Mancuso’s home visit was long on his assets - he made money inventing processes for making steel - and short on family matters.

Adoption specialists also didn’t talk to his adult biological daughter, who later said she herself was molested by him as a prepubescent girl

2006 Jan 23