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Young People Subjected to Sexual Predators
Aired May 03, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, live from the nation's capital, taking the fight against on line sex predators all the way to the steps of Congress. Tonight, lawmakers who can help us crack down on child predators -- they hear our voices. And tonight, we hear exclusively from Masha, Masha Allen, a little girl who went before Congress today to share her heartbreaking story with them. You may remember Masha, the Disney girl, adopted age 5 from a Russian orphanage to an American pedophile. Then photos taken of her at a Disneyworld hotel bedroom led cops straight to her doorstep and to a virtual clearinghouse of child porn sold and traded on line for years to come. Tonight, from the capital, seeking justice and change -- will you help us?
Good evening, everybody. I'm Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. Tonight, live from D.C., where Congress gets an earful today on the spreading evil of Internet child sex predators. Tonight, victims speak as one united voice, a voice to lawmakers on the urgent need to enforce laws and pass tough new ones to protect our children.
Leading the fight tonight, special guest, a little girl, Masha Allen. She spoke out here on the nightmare she has endured, happily leaving a Russian orphanage, age 5, to be adopted straight into the hands of an American pedophile, who proceeded to post hundreds of child porn photos of her -- still on the Web today.~ We join together to help prevent some other child from becoming a victim. Tonight we are taking your calls. And people, Washington is listening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MASHA ALLEN, 13, INTERNET CHILD PORN VICTIM: When I was 5 years old, Matthew Mancuso, a Pittsburgh businessman who was a pedophile, adopted me. I was rescued almost three years ago when the FBI raided his home in a child pornography setting. After I was rescued, I learned that during the five years I lived with Matthew, he took hundreds of pornographic pictures of me and traded them over the Internet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Again, we are live from Washington tonight, bringing you the latest of a hearing that went down today on Capitol Hill in an effort to stop child predators. Joining us here, Masha, who spoke out. She is now just 13 years old. Thank you for being with us, dear.
ALLEN: Thank you.
GRACE: When you testified today, were you afraid?
ALLEN: I wasn't afraid, I was more nervous.
GRACE: Nervous of?
ALLEN: I don't know.
GRACE: I was sitting beside you and I saw your paper tremble.
GRACE: What were you thinking?
ALLEN: I don't know. I was just trying to speak clearly, and I didn't want to mess up.
GRACE: Sweetie, why did you come to Washington?
ALLEN: I came to Washington so I can try to convince people to vote on my law.
GRACE: Masha's Law?
GRACE: Do you remember living in the Russian orphanage?
ALLEN: A little bit.
GRACE: What do you remember?
ALLEN: It was dark, and like, the older kids abused the younger kids, and you had to keep all your stuff under your pillow because they'd steal it.
GRACE: I remember you saying that you kept all of your possessions under your pillow. Everything you owned was under one pillow.
GRACE: What did you own?
ALLEN: Usually, I didn't have anything, but if I ever did have anything, it'd be, like, a stuffed animal or something like that. But I didn't really have anything.
GRACE: Masha, when you first learned you were going to be adopted out of the Russian orphanage, you were happy.
ALLEN: Yes, I was.
GRACE: What did they tell you?
ALLEN: They said I was going to be adopted and taken to America.
GRACE: Did you think you'd have a mommy and a daddy?
ALLEN: Yes, I did, because that's what everyone there said.
GRACE: Do you remember the first time you met your adopted dad, Mancuso?
GRACE: What did he -- did he bring you toys?
ALLEN: Yes. He brought candy and balloons and stuff like that.
GRACE: He brought what?
ALLEN: Candy and balloons.
GRACE: Did he tell you whether you would have a mommy?
ALLEN: I asked him, and he said I wouldn't.
GRACE: Did you ask him why?
ALLEN: No, I didn't.
GRACE: Take a listen to what this little girl was brave enough to tell Congress today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: When I was 5 years old, Matthew Mancuso, a Pittsburgh businessman who was a pedophile, adopted me. I was rescued almost three years ago when the FBI raided his home in a child pornography setting. After I was rescued, I learned that during the five years I lived with Matthew, he took hundreds of pornographic pictures of me and traded them over the Internet.
The abuse started the night I got there. Matthew didn't have a bedroom for me. He made me sleep in his bed from the very beginning. He molested me all the time. He made me dress up in adult's clothes and even pretended to marry me. Sometimes he kept me chained in the basement because he didn't want me to grow up. He only let me eat a little bit of food, plain pasta, raw vegetables, no meat.
Five years after I went to live with him, I was only gaining a little bit of weight. When I was rescued, I was 10 years old and I only wore a size 6X.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Masha went on to tell Congress today that in addition to the physical abuse she suffered starting at age 5, as just a little girl, what hurt her the most is the fact that these photos of her, pornographic photos of this child, are still on the Internet, being traded and sold like baseball cards!
In fact, well over a year ago, we brought you photos of this little girl, her face fix pixelled out. She was called the Disney girl. We were trying to find her. All we knew is that one of the backgrounds were at Disneyland.
Masha, you said that Mancuso often would keep you chained in the basement. Why?
ALLEN: I don't know why. He just -- like, he'd tie me up or something.
GRACE: Excuse me?
ALLEN: He'd tie me up, and he'd, like -- he'd take pictures of me and he'd leave me there afterwards.
GRACE: Without your clothes on?
GRACE: Joining me here tonight is another special guest, Representative Ed Whitfield out of the Kentucky jurisdiction. He is the chairman of the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee to which we made our plea today. Chairman, thank you for being with us.
REP. ED WHITFIELD (R), KENTUCKY: Well, Nancy, thank you so much for bringing attention to this important subject. And I can tell you, at the hearing today -- our committee's had a lot of very difficult hearings, but hearing the testimony of Masha and her courageous actions was moving for all of us, and I just want to thank her publicly for what she did to bring this matter to the attention of the American people.
GRACE: Chairman, do you remember that moment in the testimony today, when after Masha had described being raped and abused for all those years, formative years, Chairman, where you and I were at school functions, gathering around the Christmas tree, having dinner at home with our family, she had nothing but pain and nightly torture. And she said she asked her lawyer, Can we get those photos back off the Internet? Did that not break your heart?
WHITFIELD: Well, it did. And in fact, it was a very emotional time and -- thinking about everything that she went through. And that's why these hearings -- this is the third hearing we've had on this subject matter because we're determined, working with law enforcement, the FBI, the Department of Justice, state authorities, to take action to make it more difficult for pedophiles to be using the Internet for this purpose.
GRACE: Well, another thing I don't understand -- I'll just put it out there -- is how a Russian orphanage could adopt a baby, a 5-year-old baby. You know how many people in this country want a baby, want a child to love, and they adopted it through an American adoption agency to a pedophile that lived alone, no mom, one bedroom, no home study, nothing! And it's not even being policed, the adoption agencies.
WHITFIELD: Well, we were shocked at this testimony today of these international agencies...
GRACE: And I don't think it's your fault, OK? I'm just looking for answers.
WHITFIELD: We were shocked. It's impossible to believe that a 5- year-old girl from Russia can be brought to America and given to a pedophile, who on the first day that she's in his home, he takes her to the one bedroom and says, You'll be sleeping with me. And there were no check- ups by the adoption agency.
WHITFIELD: And it's my understanding he paid them, like, $15,000 or $20,000 to adopt Masha. And our system is broken down. There's no question about that. And these adoption agencies that are working in international -- with international children, additional steps must be taken, and we will be taking additional steps.
GRACE: To Alison Arngrim with the National Association to Protect Children. Alison, I am here in this seat of all the power of this country, in our capital. And does it strike you that in the richest, most powerful nation in the world, we can't protect our own children?
ALISON ARNGRIM, SEX ABUSE VICTIM, NATIONAL ASSOC. TO PROTECT CHILDREN: You are indeed at ground zero, Nancy. And that was something I was going say. You know, when I come on your show, it's because I want something. And you know what I want? I want $200 million, not for me, I want it for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute these crimes.
We've got thousands and thousands of children out there like Masha right now, and look how long she waited to be found. We do not have the resources. We are a day late and a dollar short. The child pornographers and the predators are ahead of us by several jumps, and we're going to have to spend the money to stop them.
GRACE: And everyone, we are opening up the lines to your phone calls, and you can call straight in and ask these representatives questions. With us, an incredible little girl, speaking out to Congress today. Take a listen to what Masha Allen had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: A person like Matthew can never be rehabilitated. Plus, in this hospital prison, he has free health care, free mental health services and can read magazines, play ping-pong and have hobbies. No one cares about rehabilitating me. I just lost my Medicaid, and my mom has to work double hard to pay for the things I need, while Matthew lays around in the hospital playing games.
I was really mad that Matthew didn't get a harder sentence and that he went to an easy prison. But I got much more upset when I found out that the pictures of me that he put on the Internet. I had no idea he had done that.
Usually, when a kid is hurt the abuser goes to prison and abuse is over, but because Matthew put my pictures on the Internet, the abuse is still going on. Anyone can see them. People are still downloading them, reading notices from the FBI every time someone is arrested for it. I want every single one of them to go to jail and really be punished.
But that's a problem, too. I found out last summer that if someone downloads a song off the Internet, the penalty is three times worse than if someone downloads child pornography. I couldn't believe it. How can this be? That's when I decided we had to change the laws about downloading child porn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: In addition to this little girl, Masha Allen, being with us, a very special guest is with us, the chairman of the oversight committee, Representative Ed Whitfield out of the Kentucky jurisdiction. Were you shocked to learn the penalty for downloading something off Napster is worse than for downloading child pornography?
WHITFIELD: I was, Nancy. I was totally shocked, and it's unbelievable that that's the case.
GRACE: Masha, when Mancuso, your first adopted dad, was taking pictures of you, did you have any idea what the Internet even was?
ALLEN: I knew what the Internet was, but I didn't know that you could trade pictures and do things like that.
GRACE: So you didn't know the photos of you as a little girl without your clothes on would basically be on the Internet forever. You can't get them back.
ALLEN: No, I didn't know that.
GRACE: Did you know, at some point, you became known as the Disney girl? Everybody in the country was trying to find out who was this little girl who has been posing for these photos at Disneyland, in a hotel room, and people were searching for you desperately. Do you remember being at Disneyland?
ALLEN: Yes, I do.
GRACE: What happened?
ALLEN: He'd take me, like, once a year. And he said it would be a vacation, but when we got there, he'd rape me and take pictures of me there, too.
GRACE: You know, I've talked to grown ladies and had them on the stand and grown men that were child molestation victims, and they can't tell the story without breaking down. How do you stay so strong?
ALLEN: I just think of all the people that I'm helping, and if my pictures can be on there, then I should be able to talk about it.
GRACE: Does anybody ever say anything about this to you at school?
ALLEN: Not mean things. They come up to me and say, Hey, you did a good job, and that's really good to know, that my friends support me.
GRACE: Are they nice to you?
ALLEN: They are.
GRACE: Chairman, can you imagine the problems you had when you were 13 in school and imagine what she goes through at school?
WHITFIELD: Well, I cannot imagine it . And as I said, we're all impressed by her courageous actions. And she's so mature for her age and has been through so much.
GRACE: What can you do for us? What do you believe Congress can really do for us?
WHITFIELD: Well, as you know, we've had three hearings on this. And a lot of the American people are not aware of what's going on on the Internet, that there is molestation on demand. There was one Web site in Texas where the couple was making $2 million a month from their customers, and they were raping their own 5-year-old daughter, chaining her to a bed with a dog collar, doing whatever someone asked them to do.
A lot of the American people do not know that the Internet is being used in that way today, and so these hearings and Masha's testimony, your testimony today, helps bring the attention to the American people. And what we have to do is come up with a legislative proposal to address this issue, to give law enforcement more ammunition to make it more difficult for these people to stay in business.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard some testimony from investigators who actually saw a 2-year-old being raped live on the Internet. They were -- it was shocking. They were able to trace this to my home state of Colorado. They knew that the perpetrator and the little child were in Colorado, but when they tried to subpoena the IP address, those records had been destroyed by the Internet service provider.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Based upon all the evidence that we have seen, it does appear that the adoption was motivated by the defendant's interest in sexual activity, illegal sexual activity with children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once you've seen the images and you've seen the collection that this set of pictures is, it really breaks your heart.
ALLEN: My pictures that are on the Internet disturb me more than what Matthew did because I know that the abuse stopped, but those pictures are still on the Internet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: We are here on Capitol Hill, battling child sex predator on line. And with me, a real American hero, a little girl who spoke out to Congress today, Masha Allen. Adopted from a Russian orphanage, she was adopted to an American pedophile.
We are taking your calls. Let's go straight out to Walter in Nebraska. Hi, Walter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Nancy. I like your program very much. The question I have is, why didn't we have this back in the '30s, when I was raped? I'm 77 years old, and I was raped at 7 years of age, and the memories I have (INAUDIBLE) bitterness!
GRACE: Walter, I'm going throw this straight to psychoanalyst Dr. Bethany Marshall. Bethany, adult victims of child molestation never get over it. They're go on, but you can still hear the pain in this man's voice up in his 70s. Why?
BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST: You can still hear the pain because the most profound problem with child sexual abuse is that the child begins to become confused and feels that it's his fault because when children are abused, they actually want to feel loved by the adult. They're moved towards the adult. And then when they become exploited, they feel that it's their fault.
The confusion is so profound that they become ashamed. They repress the incident. They don't reach out. And unfortunately, so many of the victims who reach out do not have their reality confirmed. So they -- you know, if you're an adult survivor of child sexual abuse, you have to find people who will confirm your reality, which is wonderful that Masha has that for her now, a whole group of people confirming the reality that this was wrong.
GRACE: We cut off Walter from Nebraska before I could tell him thank you for calling in. And I wish Congress had been listening when you were a little boy.
Let's go to Sonja, Oklahoma. Hi, Sonja.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, Nancy. God bless you for your courage of bringing this thing to the forefront. God bless you, Masha. I am 51 years old, and I also was molested and raped by my grandfather from the time I was 3 until I was 11. My question is, Nancy, and to the senator and everyone else out there, why is it that we have -- why is it that we victims have to serve our life sentence -- because it never goes away, as you said -- but the predators only get a slap on the wrist? Why do we have to turn on the TV and be raped every time we see a story of another child rape?
GRACE: Well, Sonja, you'll be shocked and stunned to know that Mancuso, Masha's adopted father, will get out on parole. He's not up, he will get out in 2017, unless additional charges are brought.
But to make you feel some confidence, to both Walter and Sonja, with us, Representative Phil Gingrey, sponsoring Masha's Law. Why did you speak today before the committee?
REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: Well, Nancy, Masha and her mom, Faith Allen, are my constituents in Douglas (ph) County, Douglasville (ph), Georgia, and I'm very, very proud to have an opportunity to introduce Masha's Law, HR-4703, and I'm very, very proud of this brave young lady.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any time any kid is asked where they live, do they have a picture, what's their name, where do they go to school or anything of a sexually explicit nature, that should be their sign to jump off. And just as important, any time they're solicited by someone they don't know on the Internet, they should immediately block that person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: The so-called superhighway is just that, it's just a pit stop for predators to gather, to share their stories, share their illegal photos and pass on tips to each other, and they do, to how better meet, seduce, have sex with and sometimes kidnap our children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: That is testimony earlier from today before a committee. an oversight committee trying to stop child predators on line. Here with me, the inspiration for this, this subcommittee hearing, a little girl, Masha Allen. Masha, when you were being kept captive by your adopted American father, Mancuso, looking back, what do you think was the worst thing that happened?
ALLEN: The pictures.
GRACE: Why are the pictures worse for you to tolerate than the actual rapes?
ALLEN: Because those will be on the Internet forever. And the rapes stop, but those won't.
GRACE: When you would see the camera, would you be afraid of it?
ALLEN: Sometimes. Like, he'd tell me to do something and I'd try not to do it, but I just did it because I had to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN BERRY, SEXUALLY ABUSED BY MEN ON INTERNET: For five years, beginning when I was 13 years old, I operated a pornographic Web site. I was paid by more than a thousand men to strip naked (bleep) and even have sex with female prostitutes while on camera.
My mom had used all the latest child protective software, but she was no match for the child predators. One of these men approached me online with a proposal: He would pay me $50 if I took off my shirt for a few minutes. Each request only went a bit further than the last.
They wanted me to take off my pants, remove my underwear, and eventually (bleep) on camera. As more clothes came off, more people contacted me. The compliments were endless; the gifts and payments terrific.
Efforts to prosecute these people are riddled with mistakes and bureaucracy. Unless something changes, hundreds or even thousands of children will be lost forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: This young boy, Justin Berry, became an Internet sex victim at just 13. While most of us were figuring out to try out for basketball or cheerleading or soccer at school, what we would take for our next class, he was on the Internet being the subject of a child predator. This young man spoke at Congress, as well.
Here with me, a little girl, Masha Allen, who spoke out today. Before we go back to Masha and take your phone calls, you've been seeing shots of a very special detective joining us tonight, detective Brian Reich with the Computer Crimes Unit, Bergen County prosecutor's office.
Welcome, Detective. How do you set up a sting? Tell us how you've managed to nab these Internet predators on our children?
BRIAN REICH, DETECTIVE, COMPUTER CRIMES UNIT: Well, the first thing we do is we act like a child. We go on to one of the Internet sites, whether it's MySpace, Yahoo, AOL, and we simply go into a very generic chat room.
It could be a New Jersey chat room, a New York chat room, and do something very, very complicated that takes a tremendous amount of training. We say, "Hello, I'm a 14-year-old girl," and from there, the fun begins, and we get hit on by man, after man, after man wanting to send us a picture, wanting us to send them a picture, asking us if we're alone, asking us if our father is there and what we're doing.
It really does not take long. It takes seconds, Nancy.
GRACE: You mean, you're logged on as a 14-year-old girl and, within a few moments, predators hone in on you?
REICH: Absolutely. It can take seconds; it can take minutes. And each and every time, we are approached by men wanting to meet for sex, wanting to sell us pictures, wanting to engage in cybersex, phone sex.
It's extremely, extremely common and extremely easy to do. And it just seems that it's at the epidemic proportions at this point.
The only limitations to the amount of arrests that we make is our limitation with manpower. I'm fortunate at the Bergen County prosecutor's office we have an extremely dedicated office to this type of crime, and we're very, very aggressive with it.
GRACE: You know what? You've just knocked me off my chair. I was trying to think when I was 13, 14, I was still riding a bike when I would get off school, and that was the big excitement.
REICH: Well, one of the problems is, when we give presentations of hundreds and hundreds of kids throughout our county, and when we ask, "How many kids in the room, by a show of hands, know more about the computer than their parents?" Ninety percent of the hands go up.
"How many in this room," we say, "by a show of hands have the master screen name, the keys to the kingdom that control the access to the Internet?" Their hands go up. They're the ones that control it. So parents need to be extremely vigilant on knowing about the computer, knowing what their kids are doing on the computer.
GRACE: Today, a little girl took on Congress. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MASHA ALLEN, INTERNET CHILD PORN VICTIM: Ten years ago, I was a scared little girl in a Russian orphanage. For five years, I was held hostage by a monster. But in the last two years, a lot of amazing things have happened.
John Quinones and Nancy listened to me and told my story to the whole world. I called my congressman, Dr. Gingrey, who didn't even know me. He introduced a bill in Congress right away to help me and other kids like me. Because of all these things, I believe I can do something for other kids so they don't have to go through what I did.
Some people say we can't control what's on the Internet, but that's ridiculous. If we can put a man on the moon, we can make the Internet safe for kids. That's just common sense. I'm going to work hard to protect other kids and make sure people who hurt them are punished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Let's go to the lines, Rosie. Let's go to Janice in California. Hi, Janice.
CALLER: Hi, how are you? Thank you for being you, Nancy.
And, Masha, you are a beautiful young lady. You are the strength we need in this country. Thank you so much.
My question is: Was this man -- and I use that loosely -- was he a known pedophile?
GRACE: Ah. Joining me also is Maureen Flatley, child advocate.
Maureen, it's my understanding no one knew Mancuso was a pedophile at the time, although all the warning signs were there, right? They could have asked, let's see, his ex-wife or daughter?
MAUREEN FLATLEY, CHILD ADVOCATE: Right. He had no criminal record, but he stated very openly in the home study to adopt Masha that he had a daughter with whom he was estranged. Of course, we quickly discovered that the reason they were estranged is that he had molested her. So it was not an issue of checking his criminal record; it was an issue of using common sense.
GRACE: So, in answer to your question, Janice, Maureen is right. He didn't have a criminal record, but any adoption agency -- and I can't even write a check at the grocery store without being investigated -- and this guy, a single man, adopted a 5-year-old girl from Russia, and brought her home, and said, "Hop in my bed with me" that very night?
There was never a follow-up home study, nothing to see how the child was doing. In fact, I learned today at Congress that the Humane Society does more follow-up when dogs are adopted than children.
To David Keith with Protect.org, weigh in, David.
DAVID KEITH, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION TO PROTECT CHILDREN: I think that everyone understands how horrific this problem is. What they don't understand is that it's a forest fire.
I've been working with Protect to try to fight this in states, state by state, legislation by legislation, but the only thing that we can do now is to have a national war on child molesters.
We need it nationally, a national strategy. It needs to be federally funded. We have to have boots on the ground, train people in the field, and declare war on child molesters, just like we've declared a war on terrorists.
GRACE: I couldn't agree more, and we hear about the war on terrorism all of the time -- and I agree with that -- but what about the war here in our own homes?
What about it, Alison?
ALISON ARNGRIM, MOLESTATION VICTIM: Well, as I was talking about how we need the money for law enforcement, you know, you had a guy on who just said that one child pornographer made $2 million a month. The FBI's Innocent Images Program to fight child porn gets $10 million a year to go chase them.
So that means one child pornographer can make more than the entire budget of the FBI has to fight them in six months. Do you think they can outrun them with that money?
We're going have to give these people the resources to do this. We have the technology to find children like Masha, but we have to be willing to exert the energy and spend the money to do it. You finally have them in Washington realizing there's a problem and realizing that there's laws that need to be passed; now we actually have to fund them and carry it out.
GRACE: Here with me in Washington, we are one block away from Capitol Hill, this little girl, Masha Allen.
Masha, do you ever have flashbacks? You're in a happy home with your mom who works out of the home to be with Masha as much as possible. She's having to take on a second job to support Masha. Do you ever have flashbacks about your life before your new mom?
M. ALLEN: Yes, I do. I have them a lot, but not as much as I used to.
GRACE: What are they like? Are they at night when you're asleep? Are they when you're sitting at school trying to study?
M. ALLEN: They can happen at any time.
GRACE: What do you remember? What comes to your mind?
M. ALLEN: Everything, like, him taking pictures of me, or sometimes it will just be him talking.
GRACE: Saying what?
M. ALLEN: I don't know. I just -- I don't remember. It's just his voice. I don't...
GRACE: Does it make you have bad dreams?
M. ALLEN: Sometimes it does.
GRACE: What do you do to try to get it out of your mind?
M. ALLEN: I go talk to my mom about it, or I call my friends, or skateboard, or something.
GRACE: With us, Ali Velshi. You all know Ali, CNN anchor. Ali, how many children are we talking about?
ALI VELSHI, CNN BUSINESS NEWS ANCHOR: We're talking about fully half of all the kids who have used the Internet in America admit to communicating with a stranger. And, Nancy, the thing is: What does a stranger mean to a 13- to 17-year-old whose life is about communication through instant messages or through these social networking sites?
It's not the same as when we were 13 and a stranger was someone you didn't know who -- you couldn't just randomly phone people. People didn't randomly phone you.
You get on the Internet, the whole way of doing business means that strangers aren't really strangers. So when parents tell their kids, you know, be careful about strangers, people who are being deceitful about who they are, well, you know what? A lot of these people aren't being deceitful.
As Detective Reich says, he gets on there. He can say he's a 14-year- old girl, and a whole bunch of men, mature men, will get down and tell this 14-year-old presumed girl who they are and why they should continue to be in touch with them.
So while we need boots on the ground and we need money, Nancy, there's one thing that parents can do: They can use Masha Allen as inspiration to figure out what your kids are doing online, because 20 percent of the kids who are online say they've had sexual overtures from people; 25 percent of the victims are boys like Justin Berry.
AIM, Yahoo, MSN, MySpace, Xanga, Facebook, your kids are on these things. Find out what they're doing and figure out what you can do about it.
GRACE: Before our Representative Phil Gingrey leaves, he's actually going for a vote. We just heard the buzzer go off shortly calling him to vote, what do you hope to achieve from today's testimony?
REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: Well, Nancy, this bill that we introduced I think is just a start. And as horrific as Masha's case is -- and we all heard it today when she gave that great, brave testimony -- it's really just the tip of the iceberg.
So I think we need probably to do even more than this bill that I've introduced, but I think this is a good first step to get these guys where it really hurts them, in the pocketbook, with a $150,000 penalty for each offense. And I think that's a good start, Nancy, a very good start.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I lost one of the most precious things to me in my life because of an animal, a disgusting, perverted animal. I am so broken.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's been so many times I've seen bulletins about sex offenders being released into the community; that's unacceptable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What an absolute miracle and answer to prayers this has been, and the prayers of the world have brought Elizabeth home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: We are live in Washington fighting for children, children of Internet child predators. There you saw Carlie Brucia's mother. You saw the family of Dylan and Shasta Groene. You saw Elizabeth Smart's father begging for help, thankful Elizabeth had come home. Not every family is that lucky.
Let's go to the lines. Let's go to Joe in Florida. Hi, Joe.
CALLER: Hi there, Nancy. I think you're a terrific lady. Tell me, why are we so far behind in protecting children? Wouldn't every politician want to vote on their behalf?
GRACE: I don't understand it, Joe. I agree with you. And I learned today -- and joining me now, a new guest, someone many of you have wanted to meet, Masha's new adoptive mom, Faith is with us.
Thank you for being with us.
Weren't you stunned to learn that Russia's adoption procedures are more stringent, are more harsh than America's?
FAITH ALLEN, MOTHER OF MASHA ALLEN: Absolutely, yes.
GRACE: It's amazing to me. There must be some powerful lobbying going on, on Capitol Hill.
Very quickly to defense attorney Renee Rockwell, if this legislation passes about child Internet predators, what's the defense? Go ahead; prepare me.
RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, what a typical defense would be in a child Internet case such as this would be entrapment. The very theme of catching these criminals is deception, so one could say, "You induced me into something like this."
When a law enforcement officer pulls in a defendant, pulls in someone, and tricks them into going online, talking to somebody, "I'm a 14-year- old," engages with them. The first thing a defense attorney is going to say is, "Hey, you tricked me into it. I wouldn't have done it. You started it."
GRACE: To Lauren Lake, a lot of laws are already on the books that are never being enforced. So I guess a lot of your clients are resting easy tonight, huh?
LAUREN LAKE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, and I think that's problematic. The young man, Justin, that you spoke of that testified in front of Congress, Nancy, said he gave about 1,500 names that have not been followed up on of people he knew were engaging in this type of activity. So it's very problematic, in terms of the fact that we are not following up as a nation. And I also -- you know I've got to make a commentary, like I always do.
GRACE: Not you.
LAKE: Yes, me. But you know we live in a society, Nancy, where we are feeding this beast, and then we want to wonder why it exists.
Our music videos, our TV shows are so sexual. We're on sexual overdrive in this country. And we are eating our words; we are looking at the consequences of it right now.
So all of this legislation and throwing these men in jail, we're putting a Band-Aid on it. This is not it. We've got to get into people's minds, and change the way we are dealing with sex in our culture, and be real about the fact that it's affecting our kids, and we're exposing them to danger that they don't need to be exposed to. That's all I've got to say.
GRACE: ... I knew that Lauren and Renee would find something wrong with putting child predators behind bars.
Let's go to Parry Aftab with WiredSafety.org. Parry, you have been fighting this fight for a very long time. Thoughts?
PARRY AFTAB, CYBERSPACE ATTORNEY: A very long time, Nancy. I gave up my law practice after seeing a 3 1/2-year-old raped on the Internet.
But all of your listeners, thank you so much for bringing this to their attention. All of your listeners are looking for something to do; I've got something for them to do.
I run the world's largest Internet safety and help group. We are all unpaid volunteers. You can register online, volunteer online. It is a war out there.
We've got a new program we're going start called Cyber Strike Force. And on June 20th, in Westchester County, New York, we're holding a summit, bringing all of the big social networks together, to see if we can solve this problem from the inside, too.
GRACE: You know, Masha, when you hear so many people are trying to stop what your adoptive dad did to you, what would you like to tell them?
M. ALLEN: I think it's really great that they're trying to stop it. And a lot of people have told me that none of my pictures can get off there, and I know that's true, but at least they can help in making sure that it doesn't keep happening.
GRACE: Masha, why did you not speak out to anyone, a teacher, a friend, anyone, during those horrible years?
M. ALLEN: I was afraid and confused because...
GRACE: You were just a little girl.
M. ALLEN: Yes, and I didn't know who to trust.
GRACE: To your mom, Faith, what do you do on those nights when your girl is crying, when she has bad dreams, when she comes home from school afraid?
F. ALLEN: Well, I just talk to her, explain to her my own experiences. And I sometimes hold her; sometimes we cry together. And just talking to her about my own experiences, there's really no particular answer you can give to something like that.
GRACE: We are live here in our nation's capital fighting, fighting for children across this country, victims of child sex predators. Question: Will Congress listen?
Thank you for being with us. Let's go straight to the lines. Cathy in Florida. Hi, Cathy. Do I have Cathy? No Cathy.
How about John in Florida?
CALLER: You got John in Dallas.
GRACE: Ah, OK, I'll take it.
CALLER: Hey, Nancy...
GRACE: Hey, dear.
CALLER: ... you are amazing. Real quick, you know, I think it's amazing. This girl is true American hero. She's a bravery beyond means. I am so ashamed of our Congress, men and women that did not show up to support her. There were so many empty seats in front of you all, I am just -- I'm ashamed of it.
GRACE: Well, let me tell you something to make you feel a little bit better, John. The congresspeople right across that top row were the subcommittee. Behind us, the room was packed.
I will, however, tell you that one congresslady talked and whispered throughout the whole proceeding. I don't think she heard one word. Maybe she'll read the transcript.
I want to quickly ask Masha, our American hero for tonight, when you first got away from your adoptive father, did you even know what Washington, D.C., was? Had you ever even heard of it?
M. ALLEN: No, there were a lot of things that I had never heard of. Like, I didn't know a lot of music existed; I didn't know a lot of clothes existed. I was just, like...
M. ALLEN: Yes.
GRACE: How do you feel tonight?
M. ALLEN: I feel great. I mean, I'm happy...
GRACE: And strong.
M. ALLEN: Yes.
GRACE: Today, Masha led the fight to stop child Internet sex predators. And I would like to say how proud I am that I got to sit beside her and the words, "A little child will lead them," were never more true.
I want to thank Masha and her mom, Faith, but thank you to all of my guests tonight. Our biggest thank you, from Washington, D.C., tonight is to you for being with us, inviting us into your homes.
To see all the testimony from today on Capitol Hill, go to CNN.com or CNNPipeline.com. I'm Nancy Grace signing off again for tonight. See you right here tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. Until then, good night, friend.