CNN’s Nancy Grace Testifies to Strengthen Civil Penalties for Child Porn

Michael Hayes
WASHINGTON — A House oversight and investigations subcommittee on Energy and Commerce heard testimony from former prosecutor and CNN commentator Nancy Grace today in support of legislation strengthening civil penalties for people who traffic in child pornography.

The legislation in question, dubbed Masha’s Law after a young girl who has turned her victimization at the hands of an adopted father into a crusade to save other children, triples penalties for those caught downloading, possessing or trafficking child pornography to $150,000. The proposed law also allows victims over the age of 18 to sue anyone who buys, sells or distributes pictures of them.

Allen first came to the attention of lawmakers after Matthew Mancuso, who adopted the then-5-year-old girl from Russia, was convicted of molesting her and posting pictures of her on the Internet.

According to investigators, Mancuso took hundreds of pictures of the girl and traded them so prolifically with other pedophiles that authorities estimate 80 percent of those found in possession of child pornography have a picture of Allen.

Grace, who has long been an advocate for tougher penalties for pedophiles, commented that her past experience as a prosecutor was like “putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound that needed surgery.” That experience, Grace said, prompted her to push for bills like Masha’s law, when she learned of the girl’s plight while working as a journalist at CNN’s Headline News.

Speaking before the committee, Grace called the information superhighway a “pit-stop for predators” who use the Internet to trade information on how to meet, kidnap and harm children.

Grace, who called Mancuso a “clearing house for child pornography,” drew attention to the fact that although the girl’s physical abuse had stopped, her suffering continues as long as the pictures remain online, telling Congressmen that what the girl desperately wanted now was for the pictures to be taken off the Internet for good.

“Masha’s Law helps recognize that child pornography is a crime, which continues to victimize people into adulthood and throughout their lives,” Joan Irvine, executive director for the ASACP, told XBIZ. “Sadly, the Internet has made it nearly impossible to completely eliminate images of child sexual abuse once they are created. Increasing the amount of recoverable civil damages in such cases may not deter child pornographers and pedophiles who already risk stiff criminal penalties, but ASACP supports the bill because it bolsters the rights of victims and survivors of the sexual exploitation of children.”