Category Archives: Masha Allen

Tales from the Darkside – Masha Allen

This is a story which sadly never goes away or gets better. The ever-excellent Pound Pup Legacy recently published this sobering exposé related by a friend of Masha Allen:

I met Masha when I was in the 5th grade. She was awkward, like me. We became very close along with another girl. At first she did not open up about her past. We would talk about normal girl things.

My best memory of Masha is when we used to steal pickles from lunch (the lunch ladies only allowed us 4). It sounds odd but it really helped us connect. We even wrote a silly story about it. From there, She explained to me she was from Russia and came to the US at a very young age. She said she was adopted by a very bad man and he did very bad things, as in sexual. I felt for her. She told me he would not allow her dairy and had starved her because he liked her “thin.”

Then came the subject about her foster mother, Miss faith. She called her “mumzie.” She talked about her very fondly so I assumed she was extremely nice and a savior to Masha.

One night Masha invited me to spend the night with her and Miss Faith. My mother was a little weary because they did not live in the best apartment complex but allowed me. Like any mother she wanted to meet Miss Faith. When I first met Miss Faith she was very nice to me, this was before she had taken in the two other foster children.

Unlike me, my mother knew as soon as she met Miss Faith that something was “off.” I just shook it off and stayed anyway. Miss Faith behaved like Masha and I’s friend. She was not like a mother. I do not remember the specifics of the night. It was quite a while until I slept over again because of some funny business going on with other people from the community near her apartment. In the mean time, Masha was slipping in school. She was having a hard time concentrating it seemed.

The second time I stayed over Miss Faith’s apartment was very different then the first. There was just a hostile feeling.

I did not know she started fostering 2 other children so I was surprised when I walked in the door. One was a boy and the other a girl. They looked to be about 6 years old, somewhere around there. They were extremely polite, almost like they were walking on egg shells around Miss Faith.

That night Miss Faith cooked dinner. While me, Masha, and Miss Faith were sitting at the table eating they were told they had to eat on the floor. It was very odd. I felt bad for them. To be honest, I do not even know where they slept because if I remember correctly Miss Faith had a 2 bedroom apartment and both rooms were occupied by Miss Faith and Masha.

When we left, I do not remember where we went, Miss Faith made the children always open the doors for us. She had a rude attitude towards them and it seemed as though Masha did too. Which was out of character for her because Masha was very sweet. My mother witnessed, I do not remember if they had gone to the local charity basketball game or not but I believe that is where it happened, Miss Faith slapping the little boy in the face. I do not remember the reason. My mother considered reporting Miss Faith and possibly taking Masha in to our home but for issues between my mother and father she never did.

For the rest of this memoir, visit Pound Pup Legacy here.

Masha Allen Redux – Pedophile Adoption in Ohio

Apparently the adoption industry learned nothing from the international uproar surrounding Masha Allen’s adoption by a child molester six years ago. Masha’s tragic adoption still reverberates as Russia continues to grapple with US-Russia adoptions.

Now, in Ohio, a disturbing new case involving the alleged rape of three boys by their adoptive father, who also allegedly prostituted one of the boys to two other men, recently was exposed and occurred “despite safeguards designed for adoption agencies and prospective parents.”

Thanks to Marley at The Daily Bastardette for bringing this story to light.

Here are the highlights:

  • Kenneth Brandt, the children’s adoptive father, is the former president of the local Foster Parent Association.
  • Brandt has a history of bringing children from Texas to Ohio as foster children.
  • Brandt had three boys ages 12, 10, and 9, and a girl, 9, under his care.
  • Brandt is charged with raping his three adopted sons and prostituting one of them to two men.
  • All four children were from Texas and one adoption was not yet finalized.
  • The children—who are not all birth siblings—were adopted in 2011 from Texas via Adopting Children Today Information Option Network (ACTION).
  • Brandt was home-schooling some of the children.
  • Authorities were able to track down Brandt and fellow suspects Patrick Rieder and Jason M. Zwick as a result of an Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force investigation involving criminal activity on Craigslist. An undercover detective responded to an ad and made contact with Zwick, who eventually introduced the detective to Rieder and Brandt.
  • One of the boys in Brandt’s home said Brandt allowed two men, Rieder and Zwick, to have sex with him.
  • During police questioning, Brandt admitted having sex with the 10-year-old about 10 times. He also told police that Zwick had sex with the boy, but denied Rieder’s involvement.
  • Brandt was on the board of the local basketball league.
  • One boy said Brandt had sex with him two to three times a week since he arrived at the home. The two other boys also told police that Brandt had sex with them.
  • The 9-year-old boy said the sex abuse started about two weeks after he arrived from Texas.
  • All the men are described as “average everyday Joe.”
  • Zwick is from an upper-middle class family with strong ties to the community, local politicians and office-holders.

University of Dayton political science professor Tony Talbott, whose research interests include human rights, said the Troy case is one example of a widespread problem. His quote sums it up best:

“I’m looking at the news coverage, and the residents of Troy are shocked and appalled, which they should be, but they really shouldn’t be surprised,” he said. “This is something occurring throughout the state of Ohio, throughout the United States and internationally.”

No word on what became of the children in this case. Hopefully they will not face Masha Allen’s tragic fate, but given their age and vulnerability, anything is possible.

The Dayton Daily News has provided extensive coverage of the case:

Man accused of child rape

FBI to pursue charges against 3 men in child sex case

Accused rapist in process of adopting 4th child in alleged rape, prostitution case

Man used private Dayton adoption agency in alleged child rape, prostitution case

Child-rape case shows safeguards failed

3 child rape suspects
 ‘blended’ into society

Two of three child-rape suspects indicted

Trial dates set in Troy child rape case

Fallen Angel in Adoption

As many of you know, The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Angels in Adoption™ Program provides Members of Congress the opportunity to honor an individual, couple, or organization from their district that have made an extraordinary contribution on behalf of children in need of homes. I have long supported this effort and any effort to raise awareness about the needs of foster and adopted children.

Back in November, I discovered that none other then Penn State child molester Jerry Sandusky was honored as an Angel in Adoption back in 2002. And quite appropriately, on November 10, 2011, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute rescinded the award with the following statement:

For 13 years, the Angels in Adoption™ award has honored more than 1,800 selfless individuals, couples and organizations who have made extraordinary contributions on behalf of children in need of loving families. In light of the serious allegations against him, and to preserve the integrity of the Angels in Adoption™ program, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute today announced it has rescinded the award given in 2002 to Jerry and Dottie Sandusky, who were among 142 awardees that year. As an organization that fights to stop child abuse, our thoughts and prayers are with the children harmed and the families affected by his alleged actions. This tragedy underscores how important it is to have a foster care system that ensures our most vulnerable children have a safe and stable environment in which to grow.

No reason a few bad apples should spoil the bin, and Sandusky was one rotten apple operating, as most pedophiles do, in plain sight but under the radar, ensconced in a false veneer of respectability and trust.

Imagine my surprise then, when I popped over to the Angels in Adoption website and found Masha Allen‘s adoptive parent, Faith Allen, proudly listed as an “Angel Alumni.”

Back in 2006, Faith got her angel wings when Senator Johnny Isakson and Congressman Phil Gingrey, nominated her (at the same time Georgia child welfare officials were investigating Faith for abuse and the Cobb & Douglas Public Health Tuberculosis Clinic was searching for Masha in order to treat a nasty case of tuberculosis).

According to Isakson, “[a]fter a lifetime of unimaginable hardships, Masha now has a safe home filled with compassion and love thanks to her Angel in Adoption, Faith Allen.”

Gingrey crowed, “Faith Allen is a shining example of the selfless love adoptive parents give their children. Faith is more than just Masha’s adoptive mother; she is her pillar of support, providing encouragement as Masha bravely shares her story. Everyone who spends time with Faith and Masha feels the warmth and kindness that make Faith an Angel in Adoption.”

Both these tributes remain on Mssrs. Isakson and Gingrey’s Congressional websites today.

Over two years ago, Maureen Flatley revealed on the extent of the cover-up in this case. An excerpt:

As the point of contact between Masha’s team and Mr. Gingery’s office I want to further clarify Michael’s comments, which are on point.

Mr. Gingery, who is was a licensed physician in Georgia when Masha’s case began to play out, was held as a professional to an extremely high ethical standard on the issue of mandatory reporting of alleged child abuse or neglect. 

…When I contacted Mr. Gingery’s office to bring them into the loop on the developments of the previous 24 hours during which the allegations of abuse and neglect by Faith Allen were surfaced, I was angrily confronted by his staffer who had already been in touch with Faith and her erstwhile attorney who provided rather alarming safe harbor for Faith (despite her position as a nurse/attorney who should have recognized a child in danger rather than simple a parent whose rights were under siege.)

Rather than objectively sort out the issues, putting the best interests of the child in the forefront as the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act dictates, Gingery’s staff immediately defaulted to the defense of Faith’s parental rights and most especially the acceptability of her discretion to engage “faith based” interventions rather than conventional mental health treatments. …

…there had been on going discussion between Mr. Gingery’s office and the outside experts for MONTHS that Faith had not been able, for whatever reasons most obviously financial, to meet Masha’s needs and that the family was in crisis. Gingery’s staffer, furthermore, knew a.) that Masha had been hospitalized at least once for a suicide attempt and that the clinicians involved had questioned Faith’s parenting and b.) Faith had “paraded” Masha on the Oprah Winfrey show against advice of all outside counsel, again creating psychological stress for a vulnerable child.

…If anyone had been able to put this case into a “fair and balanced” position in which all the issues on both sides of the case could be sorted out in an objective and responsible fashion, it was Mr. Gingery. As doctor, Mr. Gingery was in fact uniquely positioned to both understand and sort out the desperate needs of this family and most especially a vulnerable child whose interests he had purported to defend. …

…to allow a vulnerable child whose needs were well know not just to the Member but to the entire world to go unmet in what was by then an obviously life threatening situation is not just curious, it’s an outrage.

Like Sandusky, everyone knew something was wrong with Faith’s care of Masha. Many, many people suspected something was just not right with the whole scenario. Some very powerful people knew much more, and yet, the situation persisted year after year after year just like Penn State’s cover-up of Sandusky.

Former United States Attorney (and recent Congressional candidate) Mary Beth Buchanan started the spin early on when she declared on national television in 2005: “Masha has been adopted by a very loving family who has changed her name and moved her to another part of the country, where she can make a new start and have a very, very wonderful life ahead of her.”

The press had it’s own unique role in perpetrating the fraud. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Barbara White Stack, who later admitted that “everyone in Pittsburgh knew Faith was mentally ill,” wrote in 2004 that “Faith believes God placed Mea with her because she could understand her pain and her needs. It is so awesome for her to be matched with a little girl of similar background who she is able to parent and minister to. I think it was by divine orchestration that it happened that way.”

Post-Gazette reporter Torsten Ove intoned, “[Masha’s] family is her other rock. All it took was love from someone who cared, Faith Allen.”

Even United States District Judge Terrence McVerry declared that “I’m so happy, Masha, for you and I hope and pray for you to have a happy life with Faith, and I’m sure that that will come to pass.”

Masha’s pastor, Winnie Pollard, was probably the most prescient when she declared, “Faith is a blessing. There is, without any question, that the two of them are going to be a story worth watching to see how their lives are going to effect so many others. They are a sign of hope in the City for everyone that has struggled liken unto Faith and every child that is in need of help liken unto Masha.”

Perhaps the biggest spin, however, was perpetrated by Masha’s own legal team, the very lawyers who were charged with ensuring her best interest. According to Masha’s First Lawyer, Linell Lee, “I only see a bright future for [Masha] with Faith. Kid’s Voice is happy to see this day!”

Masha’s Third Lawyer, Diane Sternlieb, declared “I have spent many, many months with Faith and Masha and have witnessed a bond of love between these two. Masha is lucky to have Faith in her life!”

Masha’s most recent lawyer, David S. Bills, defending Faith’s questionable care of Masha, trumpeted: “Faith received a major award as an Angel in Adoption™ for her outstanding contributions toward the welfare of children in the United States foster care system and orphans around the globe. U.S. Senator Isakson proclaimed: “Faith Allen, who adopted her daughter, Masha, last year, is a truly amazing woman who embodies the spirit of the Angels in Adoptions program. Masha now has a safe home filled with compassion and love thanks to Faith Allen.” Representative Gingrey added: “Faith is her pillar of support, providing encouragement as Masha bravely shares her story. Everyone who spends time with Faith and Masha feels the warmth and kindness that make Faith an Angel in Adoption.”

Which naturally brings us back to the Angel in Adoption program. When I read about Sandusky’s fall from grace, and saw that Faith was still an Angel in Good Standing with CCAI, I decided to perform a public service and let everyone know that Faith’s parental rights to Masha were involuntarily terminated years ago.

I sent the following email to Senator Isakson (on December 13, 2011):

I read with interest this article from last month.

I noticed that Faith Allen is still listed as a 2006 Angel in Adoption sponsored by the Senator and this press release remains on your website:

In 2008, just two years after she was named an Angel in Adoption, Faith Allen…parental rights were involuntarily terminated by the State of Pennsylvania. …

I worked closely with Sen. Isakson on Masha’s Law. The situation with Faith Allen was almost as bad as Sandusky. You might want to consider taking appropriate action.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Adoption group rescinds award given to Sandusky

and Congressman Gingrey (on December 13, 2011):

I read with interest this article from last month.

I noticed that Faith Allen is still listed as a 2006 Angel in Adoption and her picture remains on your website:

In 2008, just two years after she was named an Angel in Adoption, Faith Allen…parental rights were involuntarily terminated by the State of Pennsylvania. …

I worked closely with Rep. Gingrey on Masha’s Law. The situation with Faith Allen was almost as bad as Sandusky. You might want to consider taking appropriate action.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Adoption group rescinds award given to Sandusky

and CCAI (on November 15, 2011):

I read with interest this article from Saturday.

I noticed that Faith Allen is still listed as a 2006 Angel in Adoption. In 2008, just two years after she was named an Angel in Adoption, Faith Allen…parental rights were involuntarily terminated by the State of Pennsylvania.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Adoption group rescinds award given to Sandusky

Not surprisingly, no one has responded, although CCAI did remove the list of Alumni Angels from its website.

Exploitation of Children Over the Internet Congressional Testimony

The C-Span Video library is a tremendous resource. It has archived on the internet thousands of Congressional hearings and testimony available nowhere else.

Here is Masha Allen’s testimony in May 2006 about her international adoption by pedophile Matthew Mancuso.

Unfortunately the explosive Congressional Hearing in September 2006 concerning so-called Follow-Up Issues to the Masha Allen Adoption (i.e., how a single adult male pedophile was able to adopt a five year old Russian girl with the approval of the U.S. State Department and the State of Pennsylvania) is only available in a boring old Congressional Report. Sadly, that revolution was not televised.

Echos of the Masha Allen case play out in a New York courtroom

I first wrote about the disturbing case of adoptive parent Judith Leekin back in 2008. Now new details of that case are emerging which share shocking similarities to Masha Allen’s second adoption. According to the New York Times:

More than 30 years ago, a Queens foster mother was investigated and cited for scalding a boy in her care. But despite that finding, the city did nothing in the decades that followed to prevent the woman, Judith Leekin, from carrying out one of the most brazen and disturbing child welfare schemes in recent memory.

The failure of child welfare officials to bar Ms. Leekin from the system after that 1980 episode is one of the most striking revelations in new court reports filed in a Brooklyn lawsuit. Ms. Leekin was arrested in 2007; the authorities determined she had adopted 11 disabled New York foster children using aliases, then moved to Florida, where she subjected them to years of abuse — all the while collecting $1.68 million in subsidies from New York City until 2007.

The 1980 episode, for example, occurred at Ms. Leekin’s home on 226th Street in Laurelton, Queens, the reports show. When Ms. Leekin later adopted 11 children under four aliases over an eight-year period, she listed the same address; it was never cross-checked, the reports say.

The documents include a deposition by Ms. Leekin, taken in a Fort Lauderdale prison, in which she suggests a possible motive for her use of false identities: her concern that she would be linked to the 1980 abuse episode.

In court documents, they depict Ms. Leekin as a sophisticated serial criminal whose extraordinary scheme fooled varied professionals and could not have been foreseen or detected, given the practices and capabilities of the time.

In a jailhouse deposition in October, she came across as defensive and combative as she admitted hitting children as punishment, the 184-page transcript shows. She acknowledged being the subject of the early abuse report, and conceded she “probably” later used aliases out of concern that the earlier episode would have otherwise surfaced.

But she said that as she began adopting children under aliases — “Anne Marie Williams,” “Cheryl Graham,” “Michelle Wells” and “Eastlyn Giraud” — she was never asked for her passport, birth certificate or any other form of identification.

“Yes, I did some wrong things, sir, but they didn’t do their investigation,” she said, adding she had been made “a scapegoat.”

“They had references. Did they check out the references? No,” Ms. Leekin said. “You convicted me. You sentenced me. And now you want to come here to get a deposition from me, for what? The city has to take some kind of responsibility.”

Throughout the process, Ms. Leekin offered conflicting or false responses when asked about her employment history, income, education, assets and religion.

Mr. Safarik, the other plaintiff’s expert, wrote: “Had the defendants simply verified the self-reported information, her lies would have been uncovered.”

Read the entire story here.

The Free Market in Child Pornography

More than six years after the international law enforcement community began desperately searching for the child pornography victim known as the Disney World Girl, justice remains allusive for Masha Allen. Despite two Congressional investigations in 2006 and pressure from Nancy Grace and Oprah, none of the perpetrators involved with her international adoption have been brought to justice.

Despite the involvement of almost 30 lawyers since Masha was rescued from Matthew Mancuso in 2003 (including the prosecutor and lead investigator in the much-hyped Caylee Anthony investigation), not one of the many child welfare institutions and organizations who were involved with Masha’s international and domestic adoptions have paid one dime for her care and recovery.

And despite a federal law named for her, not one case has been brought on her behalf under Masha’s Law which guarantees $150,000 from each of the thousands of child molesters who collect and trade her images each year.

Neither a high-profile 2008 exposé in Wikileaks nor aborted investigations by ABC News in 2009 and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2010 have been able to shed any light on the abject failure of the American justice system to vindicate the rights of one of the most notorious victims of child trafficking in this country’s history.

Ms. Allen will turn 19 in just a few days. With each passing year, her ability to collect anything from anyone diminishes substantially. The tolling she enjoyed as a minor under the Pennsylvania statute of limitations ended when she reached legal adulthood last year. Law suits for intentional torts typically must be brought within a year. Claims for fraud, personal injury or professional malpractice must be brought before Masha turns 20. This includes a lawsuit under the Notice of Claim relating to her failed domestic adoption by Faith Allen which we filed back in 2007.

Masha’s millionaire father also has somehow escaped civil liability for what he did to Masha. And while other victims are collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in mandatory restitution in the federal courts, Masha has sought and received nothing.

Now Masha’s Law itself is under attack. In 2009, Jesse Walker, the influential editor of Reason magazine (which espouses “free minds and free markets”), wrote an editorial entitled The Blurry Boundaries of Child Porn. Walker correctly summarizes Supreme Court jurisprudence which makes child pornography outside the scope of First Amendment protection when he recognizes that “[t]he viewing [of child sex abuse images], in this analysis, is itself a perpetuation of the abuse.”

Walker continues:

Such arguments undergird Masha’s Law, named for Masha Allen, a Russian orphan who was held prisoner, raped repeatedly on camera, and advertised in the kiddie porn world as “Disney World Girl.” The measure, which became law in 2006, allows adults who were victimized by pornographers as minors to sue people who download the resulting images.

Emotionally, it’s a compelling concept. And where invasion of privacy is the concern, civil remedies certainly make more sense than criminal prosecutions. But the idea opens a can of worms. If the issue is privacy, shame, and being haunted by ineradicable images, wouldn’t the same argument apply to the abused prisoners photographed at Abu Ghraib? To hostages filmed by their captors and aired on the news? To anyone humiliated in front of a camera? Should an inadvertent Internet celebrity, deeply embarrassed that people are chuckling at a clip of his light-saber dance, have standing to sue the viewers?

That last example might seem absurd, but it actually veers close to the pornography debate. Because the child porn laws set the age of maturity so high, they cover not just the victims of coercion but exhibitionists who voluntarily put photographs of themselves online. There also are people who post pictures that are salacious but don’t include the “lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area” invoked by the law. They do not necessarily intend for anyone but their friends to see the photos. But the Internet doesn’t always work that way.

After analogizing Masha’s child sex abuse images to teen-aged girls in bikinis and equating them with a video clip of a “light-saber dance,” Walker declares “Is it the role of the government to preserve her peace of mind? … I’m not convinced that’s reason enough to punish the people who merely see those recordings, as opposed to the people who actively participate in the abuse of prisoners like Allen.”

Perhaps what Walker desires is a “free market” in child pornography which will “free the minds” of the tens of thousands of child molesters and pedophiles who actively collect and trade child sex abuse pictures and videos.

Walker’s vision, however, is hardly “free” or fair to the victims. Until the legal system insures that victims like Masha Allen can recover for the very real harms caused by the horrific abuse inflicted on them by the production, distribution and collection of child sex abuse images, the “market” is neither free nor fair.

And as we’ve seen in the Masha Allen case, if Congress, Oprah and 30 lawyers can’t bring justice to one victim, then deregulating the market for child pornography is hardly the answer. Sadly, Walker’s unfettered “free market free mind” is currently much closer to reality than the victims’ “peace of mind.” Unfortunately, for Masha Allen and thousands of other victims of child pornography, justice remains long in coming.

Wikileaks on Masha Allen

Long before Wikileaks founder and editor Julian Assange became the planet’s most hunted man for releasing hundreds of thousands of military and diplomatic documents, he published a eerily prescient exposé on Masha Allen entitled One Child’s Unending Abuse – From Disney World Girl to Drifter

Alice in Wonderland
In March 2008, Assange and business reporter Christopher Witkowsky, released what would become journalism’s epitaph on what had been an international story influencing everyone from Senator John Kerry to Oprah to President Putin.

Masha’s rapid ascent to worldwide fame in 2005 and 2006 was followed by an equally quick descent into oblivion. Assange and Witkowsky were the first and only media to explain Masha’s tragic unwinding.

Once the political darling of both the right and the left (the 2006 Republican controlled House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has long-featured Masha Allen on its now-archived web page and Senator John Kerry spoke about his work on Masha’s Law as recently as last year), by 2008 almost no one cared or remembered anything about her shocking story.

Despite several abortive efforts by ABC News to uncover the truth about Masha’s situation, and a short-lived law enforcement investigation initiated by Senator Johnny Isakson in late 2007, no one from either the political or media establishments had the time or interest to uncover the uncomfortable truth behind Masha’s downfall.

Quite simply, after she had done such a good job serving both the politicians and talk show hosts, Masha’s messy life became too complicated and too fraught with blow back to warrant too much exploration.

“Don’t ask don’t tell” isn’t just for the military. Out of sight, out of mind often serves everyone’s interests.
Instead “Masha’s Story” became the sole providence of child pornographer turned true crime author Peter Sotos and Hollywood scriptwriter Donald Martin.

Sotos, who was the first person in the United States convicted for child pornography in the 1970s, wrote an exploitative opus about Masha in 2007 called Show Adult (which until very recently was selling briskly on and was even tagged “Masha Allen”) in which he mockingly celebrates her exploitation branding her the world’s first child porn star. In Show Adult, Sotos pines for the day when Masha “graduates” from child pornography, directing her to “stop pretending to be the child I want. . . . . It’ll be amazing advertising. She’s gone from child pornography to adult films!”

Interspersed with snip-its of Masha’s Congressional testimony, Sotos directs an imaginary film:

I want to put these words in her little lying fed mouth.

I want this little ugly girl to say the same exact words.

I want my actress on her stage to drink beer from a can and then open her little daddy’s [] mouth so I can blow smoke into her squinting primped ten-year-old face. I paid another actor, with a bigger belly [] night after night to walk the stage towards her. Naked and quick and jostling and wet and full of paid angry intention. To lean down when he reached her.[]

Her skin feels better than yours.

My performer would have to tell the audience. Without a speck of her flat competitive identity infecting my genius and instructions.

I want to grow up into this.

It does matter.

Sotos continues:

There are three very important actresses Masha should be made aware of.

Charlotte Blythe in Angela.

Victoire Thivisol in Ponette.

Fauve De Loaf in Les Enfants De L’amour.

Fauve does a toddling nude bathtub scene with an adult dowd and then later appears, fully clothed, but in bed with a young-adult, naked from the professional waist up only, actress. It is here that Fauve squeaks very convincingly about how beautiful the young woman is . . .

She needs someone to take her little blonde russian head and blow possibilities into it that are bigger than her mimicking kindergarten mentalities. Don’t pander. Don’t fucking do schtick. Don’t do it unless you think you’re getting something more from it than your fucking reinterpreting hated audience. The short, fat therapist vent In clown make-up you have teaching you doesn’t need to be thanked. Belies her acceptance of the job over art. The teacher she’s allowed herself to use is demeaning her. Worse than that. She’s using you as an actor that doesn’t even believe the lines she’s written for you. If you suspect you’re better than the runt slabs of meat you say you used to be, then please try and convince us of it. Please try and show that you’re capable of some understanding beyond table hopping.

Make her act. List actresses. Why don’t the little girls like her, filmed for pornography only, act in the films that get distributed as easily as vigilantes say they do. I can assure you, acting IS the most aggressive, most violent, most sexually satisfying fleshless art that could be done to the little thing. The writer must insist that she perform the words as he has written them but must convince the mold that she can bring something extra and indefinable to the piece. Being young, she’ll believe it faster than those who finally just accept the job. Get to her before life has infected her even further. I only care about child actors now. Both naked and clothed, lesson’d.

Finally, Sotos offers this advice:

Lie. Don’t accept that honesty exists. Don’t prize virtuous concepts.

Don’t hate absence so much or assume you’ve given up on it.

It does work out.

Everything will be okay. You don’t want to hear that it’s really not bad now, do you?

Nothing is ever, ever, bad. Not ever.

You’re lucky.


You don’t have to be honest with yourself either. There is absolutely no separation. Tell yourself shit. You just make up lies to tell others. Live in that moment as long as you can. More good luck.

Martin’s script wasn’t much better. His un-released and un-produced screenplay characterizes Masha as a “wild” “biting” defiant “ticking time bomb” who is ultimately redeemed by a “petite” “feisty” briefcase-toting foster mother on a mission to create the family she never had. When the county agency discusses removing Masha, her foster mother Faith implores “Just don’t let her end up in some group home, okay?”

Later, Faith is shocked that Masha’s elementary school teacher never “reported anything wrong with Masha. Malnutrition. Neglect. Endangerment. Abuse.” Nothing. Faith, “struggling to make sense of all this,” resolves that “kids are supposed to have fun. That’s the rule.”

When Faith asks to adopt Masha, her social worker Shirley responds “A permanent single mother to a kid with so many issues? Are you nuts?”


If she goes to a group home, what are the chances of her ever having a normal life?


What? Figure you can just fix her? You called her a ticking time bomb.


Exactly what they used to call me.

That stops Shirley’s rant. She locks eyes with Faith.


Do not make this child’s welfare about you and your past. Okay?

After a trip to a skateboarding therapist and a thorough home study which includes fingerprints, a background
check by the FBI, character references and blood work, Faith ultimately adopts Masha promising her that “no one’s gonna hurt you anymore.”


The state public adoption process adheres to a much higher standard than the private sector.

Faith and Masha exchange a look, and brace themselves.


Analyzing the situation every which way, for no one wants to repeat a mistake. You must understand this.

Faith looks at Masha, gently caresses her cheek.


Well, we tried.


Adoption is a great thing and must be handled with the utmost care and oversight. And, so, a decision has been made …


Yeah, I know, Shirley. Thanks for coming to break it to us in person.


Faith, will you let me finish? Your application for adoption has been approved.

Still, doubts persist:


Maybe you can start by explaining why you’re so angry with me over this adoption thing.


I’m not angry. I’m concerned. You have some unfinished business. Last year, when you ended therapy,
you told your doctor you’d go see your mother. Well? Have you?

The answer is obvious: no.


And you wonder why you’re still having nightmares. And why I have issues with this adoption.


Look, I am stronger now.


Masha needs more than that.


She needs someone to fight for her.


I agree, but a good General knows he can’t fight today’s battle until yesterday’s is won.




My Dad was a Marine. (gently) Go see your mother. If you can’t put her behind you, I’m not sure how much of a help you’ll be to Masha.

In perhaps the most telling and ironic scene in this “true life docudrama,” FBI Agent Cindy Barnes tells Faith, who is frustrated by the District Attorney’s refusal to prosecute Mancuso:


Well, there’s an election coming. I doubt the D.A. wants to be seen as soft on child abuse. Use the media.


The media? No. God. Absolutely not. Masha couldn’t handle it.


Hey, you asked for my advice. Is that it? ‘Cause I’ve got other cases here and —


(cuts her off)

Yeah. Thanks. You’re a big help. Exasperated, Faith turns and starts to walk away.



Faith stops.


Some kids don’t make it out of that stuff alive. If they do, it’s grim. Drugs. Prostitution. Slavery. The big difference between them and Masha is that she has you.

Finally, in the penultimate scene, Martin joins Sotos in exploring the full implication of the public dialectic:


I need your help.


With what?


You know someone at CNN, right? I need to contact everyone who did reports on the Disney World Girl, so Masha can tell them —


(cuts her off)

Stop right there. You want to drag Masha in front of the media?


It’s what she wants.


I don’t care. She’s a child.


She wants to help other kids out there, and I think she’s right. Plus, this could get the D.A. moving, which would be nice —


Okay, now I’m upset. What’s going on? Did someone offer you money?


I don’t believe you just said that.


And I don’t believe you’re wanting to exploit Masha all over again. You could be harming that girl in ways we can’t even fathom.


I thought about that, I did, but Masha isn’t you and she’s not me. This is very important to her. She needs to see she can be in control of her life. Look at it from her perspective.


No. We’re the adults. We’re not supposed to cater to their whims. Our job is to take care of them.


That’s what I am doing.


I don’t agree. Getting on Oprah is not going to heal that child, or you. I used to think your foster parenting was a healthy channel for your anger, but this? No. If you do this, I’ll have no choice but to stop the adoption.

[Too bad Shirley is a fictional character!]

After triumphant round of television and newspaper interviews, Masha begins a crusade to help other children declaring to an abused friend “tell someone else. Don’t keep it a secret. You’re brave. If you tell someone, things will
change. You’ll see.”

When a local politician makes a call to Washington, the story is complete. The DA files charges and helps Masha write a Victim Impact Statement, Faith meets a boyfriend through an online ad placed by Masha, and in the final triumphant scene, Faith confronts her mother in prison offering forgiveness and redemption.

All in all, it’s a perfect Hollywood ending with everyone living happily ever after:


I love you.


I love you, too.

Masha reaches over and tenderly caresses Faith’s cheek.


You kept your promise.

They embrace.

Masha notices a butterfly flutter past. A thing of beauty.

Three versions of reality, three explorations of the truth. Who is right? Wikileaks? Sotos? Martin? And what are the international implications now?