Victim of child pornography sues her exploiters in class-action suit

Aug. 27, 2013 at 2:43 PM   |   Comments

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Masha Allen, adopted daughter of a Pittsburgh businessman who sexually abused her online, has begun suing those who viewed her Internet image, a lawsuit states.

Allen, now 20, was a Russian orphan when she was adopted at age 5 by Richard Mancuso, 55. Her widely circulated images came to personify the dark side of the Internet, and the U.S. Congress passed a law in her name, giving child pornography victims the opportunity to recover damages from anyone caught with their images.

In a federal class-action lawsuit filed Friday, Allen names Mancuso and 13 other men convicted of transmitting or possessing her photo, and seeks at least $150,000 from each, the minimum payout under Masha's Law, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday.

It is a class-action suit that keeps growing, the newspaper noted. Like all child pornography victims, the U.S. Justice Department notifies Allen every time it charges someone with illegally possessing her photo, a group now "well over 2,000" in number, the lawsuit states.

Collecting on the claim is a dubious matter, though. Men convicted of possessing pornography tend to be defendants whose lives are in ruins by the time their criminal cases finish, the newspaper said.

"These are the types of people who aren't motivated to settle, or even defend, a lawsuit," said Stephen Kelley, a Baltimore lawyer who filed a Masha's Law claim in May against 80 men on behalf of two sisters, 7 and 9.

Mancuso pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and is in federal prison. The others named in Allen's suit are all in prison on child pornography charges as well.

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