- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 2, 2010

“Usually, when someone is raped and abused, the criminal goes to prison, and the abuse ends. But since Matthew put these pictures on the Internet, my abuse is still going on.”

This declaration by a child once dubbed “Disney World girl” was a cry in the wilderness when it was made it in 2006.

This year, however, a new technology developed by Microsoft should be able to purge Masha Allen’s hideous photos — and thousands of other child-pornography images — from the Internet.

Masha’s photos are “absolutely” among those to be hunted down once the new PhotoDNA technology is in full effect, Ernie Allen, president and chief executive of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, told me recently.

For those who haven’t followed Masha’s story, here is a brief recap.

In May 2003, federal agents went to the Pennsylvania home of Matthew Mancuso based on his online boast of a child-pornography collection. In addition to a porn stash, the agents found a very skinny 10-year-old girl in the home. She was Masha, his adopted daughter.

Although Mancuso shouted to Masha to not say anything, the little girl broke her five-year silence by confiding her “secret” to a female agent.

She explained how she had been adopted from a Russian orphanage at age 5. At first, she considered herself lucky to have been adopted by a wealthy American man, but even she was alarmed when she arrived at his home: There was no mommy waiting for her, and she had no bed for herself.

Instead, Mancuso took her into his bed that night for what would become a five-year nightmare.

“I can’t even remember all the abusive things he did to me,” Masha said in her victim-impact statement, written when she was 13.

He forced her to “have sex with him every day.” He made her wear a wedding dress and “marry” him. He assaulted her with objects and chained her in the basement.

Mancuso also kept her on a starvation diet, as “he didn’t want me to grow up,” Masha said. When she was freed at age 10, she was wearing the clothes of a 6-year-old.

Mancuso has been convicted of many charges, including child pornography, child rape, sexual battery and incest, and is serving lengthy prison sentences.

But, according to Masha, the “absolute worst thing about everything that happened to me was that Matthew put my pictures on the Internet.”

Indeed, Mancuso took hundreds of pictures of Masha and posted many of them online.

In 2005, investigators in Toronto became desperate to identify the little girl whose pictures were in so many pedophile collections. They could see she was growing up while being abused.

The police distributed some of her pictures — leaving the scenery, but removing her image — in hopes that someone would recognize the location of the abuse. When some photos were identified as taken in a Disney resort, investigators dubbed her “Disney World girl.”

A few weeks later, the Toronto police solved their mystery — the little girl was Masha, and her abuser was already in jail.

In 2006, Congress enacted “Masha’s law,” which set a $150,000 civil penalty for downloading child pornography and allows sex-abuse victims to sue people who downloaded images taken of them as children.

Still, like nearly 3,000 other identified child victims of sex abuse, Masha’s pictures still exist online.

Her victim-impact statement says it all:

“I was told that my pictures are the most popular on the Internet. How can so many people enjoy the horrible things that happened to me?

“I want every single person who downloads my picture to go to jail and really be punished as much as possible. They are as bad as Matthew. They want to see me suffer. They want to see me starved and hurt and sad and abused.

“Child pornography is not a victimless crime. I am a victim, and I still suffer every day and every time someone sees me being abused.”

Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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