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Girl seen in abuse photos is found


Girl seen in abuse photos is found

The child appeared in pictures that circulated on the Internet for 3 years.

By Henry Pierson Curtis and Erin Cox | Sentinel Staff Writers

Posted May 14, 2005

A girl who triggered an international search after she was seen in 200 sexually explicit Internet photographs -- including more than a dozen taken at a Walt Disney World hotel -- has been found living in a Pennsylvania foster home.

The Russian-born girl, now age 11 or 12, was adopted by her abuser when she was about 5 and brought to the United States, police said Friday.

Her adoptive father, Matthew Mancuso, was arrested in Pittsburgh two years ago on federal child-pornography charges and is serving a 15-year prison sentence.

"I think he should die in prison," said Lt. Matt Irwin of the Orange County Sheriff's Sex Crimes Unit. "If his sentence is anything short of that, he should be prosecuted here in Orlando."

Orange County investigators entered the case after the Toronto police Internet-porn unit, fearing the blond girl was still being abused, released some of the photos with the child's face digitally removed. Among the photos, which circulated on the Internet for more than three years, were several that appeared to have been taken in a hotel room. Tips suggested the room was at the Port Orleans Resort at Disney World.

The Disney photographs were taken when the victim was 7 or 8 years old in the spring of 2001, investigators say. The photos show she was raped in a hotel elevator and in a guest room, each of which would be a capital crime carrying a mandatory life sentence, Irwin said.

Last month, authorities in Orlando released images of a second girl who was not being molested but appeared in photos that shared the same background. Irwin said Friday that girl was the victim's neighbor and friend who accompanied the victim and her abuser on a trip to Orlando.

The Internet photos sparked international outrage and more than 600 calls to Orange County investigators.

Unbeknownst to Irwin and the Canadian authorities who started the investigation, an FBI Internet-pornography task force in Pittsburgh arrested Mancuso in May 2003. At his 2004 sentencing on the child-pornography conviction involving a 6-year-old girl, U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry told Mancuso: "You have scarred the psyche of this young victim for life."

Investigators said Friday they are unsure whether the girl in the Pennsylvania case is the same child photographed at the Disney hotel. The victim seen in the photos at Disney had been in foster care since her adoptive father's arrest.

State and federal officials located the girl after they found a match in one of several law-enforcement databases of child pornography. FBI spokesman Paul Bresson in Washington, D.C. said the FBI received information Thursday that connected the Pennsylvania and Florida cases.

Irwin expressed relief that the girl in the notorious photographs is safe. But he added that her case is all too common.

"We probably see several hundred of these cases every year," Irwin said. "It's everybody. There's every race, every occupation, every economic class. It doesn't matter. There's so much sexual molestation that occurs."

Information from wire services was used in this report. Henry Pierson Curtis can be reached at hcurtis@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5257. Erin Cox can be reached at ecox@orlandosentinel.com or 352-742-5926.

2005 May 14