Masha Allen – staggering malefaction at every level
“A vast conspiracy of silence” allowed abuses to go on for years in “the most extraordinary abuse of power without regard for . . . the kids.” This recent editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer referring to the judicial corruption scandal in Luzerne County could also apply to the case involving Masha Allen, another Pennsylvania judicial casualty. Unlike the situation in Luzerne County, however, countless individuals from Pittsburgh to Georgia knew about Masha’s plight and failed to respond over and over again.
This lack of imagination was more than just the “human error and system lapses” which allow terrorists to continue to board airplanes, but willful ignorance of information and the basic duty of care to take quick and thorough action to protect the well being and best interest of the most notorious child sex trafficking victim in the world.
Here for the first time is a partial overview of the individuals and institutions who failed to act to protect Masha Allen.
- According to award-winning journalist and Poynter Institute Ethics Fellow Barbara White Stack, “everyone in Pittsburgh knew Faith was mentally ill” when she adopted Masha Allen. Despite these concerns, White Stack wrote the infamous “press release” extolling, in near-biblical terms, Faith’s miraculous adoption of Masha in 2004.
- When Judge Cheryl Allen sent her name-sake Faith Allen to the Allegheny County Court employment office to get a job sometime in 2003, Court Administrator Cynthia K. Stoltz found her “obviously mentally ill” and refused to hire her. Faith was apparently not crazy enough to become a foster parent with Families United Network (FUN) where she eventually became a foster parent.
- According to Faith’s social worker at FUN, Nicole Iole, there were allegations of abuse in Lynn’s foster home (one of Faith’s prior names is Lynn Ginn) and several children were removed before Masha was even placed there. Lynn was dropped as a foster parent before Masha was even rescued from pedophile Matthew Mancuso. The one person who knew the most was a FUN supervisor, Serena Holt, and even then most of what they knew about Lynn was “untrue.” “We never got a straight answer. Lynn always changed her name – her name always came up different. When Masha was placed in Lynn’s home she was under suspension for abuse of another child and should not have been on the placement list at all. Masha was supposed to be with Lynn on a temporary basis. Suddenly it was all over the news. Lynn Ginn enjoyed this, the media publicity. She got in good with CYF and the people in charge and they CYF thought it was a good home. They pushed the adoption, pushed it as a good home and wanted it to happen. They agreed and made it happen fast.”
“Lynn said Masha never wanted to have any contact with that family Ann Mancuso. Lynn often reported what Masha said and Masha silently agreed. She would get that look on her face. Even if you pulled her aside she was almost rehearsed what Lynn told her. It was like she was repeating Lynn’s words.”
“Lynn brought Judge Allen up frequently. Talked about dinner and going over to her house. Lynn said Judge Allen would speed things up and do what she wanted to make the adoption happen. That she was going to change her name to Allen and everything.”
- FUN Supervisor Serena Holt thought Lynn was “a lawsuit waiting to happen” and wanted her and Masha’s case out of the agency ASAP.
- According to Judge Allen, speaking at Masha’s adoption, “I began to think about the fact that many people would say that this adoption is something that is just occurring by happenstance, but I don’t believe that to be the case, and this is not a typical every day, ordinary adoption, so it’s not — so, I’m not going to say typical every day, ordinary things , , , Faith, many people who have experienced what you’ve experienced, and who have the type of history that you have, have become bitter. Many of them, unfortunately, having been victims of abuse, have gone on to become perpetrators of abuse . . . you have been able to turn your trials and tribulations into a testimony, and it is because of your openness and your willingness to share your story that you will serve as a blessing to many people.“
“I know you have been a blessing in my life. You have been a blessing in Masha’s life, and will continue to do so, and I believe that there will be many people blessed by your testimony and your experience, and I also believe that only a wise and all-knowing God could have taken a young girl from Georgia and connected her with a young girl from halfway around the world and brought the two of you together, and I know that — I don’t know everything that God has in store for you, but it must be something pretty awesome, because so many things have tried to come against this day coming to pass, as we know, but we are all here for you.“
- Throughout her brief stay in foster care, FUN reportedly had “very little contact” with Masha’s guardian ad litem Linnell Lee of Kids Voice. Kids Voice founder and executive director Scott Hollander wrote in 2007 that his office had “strong disagreement with Faith Allen’s decision to publicize Masha’s sexual abuse in the media, which was something that we have always believed was contrary to Masha’s best interests and well-being. I and others who had been involved with Masha and Faith — were concerned that Faith’s own issues related to her sexual abuse impacted the decisions she made for Masha, especially regarding her decisions to publicize the circumstances and details of Masha’s abuse, a decision with which so many of us disagreed. . . . Faith’s publicity efforts began well before Mr. Marsh ever was involved in the case.”
- On September 27, 2006, Faith terminated our firm’s representation because we were demanding a legal guardian to protect Masha’s estate. We immediately telephoned the county sheriff who was called to investigate Masha’s allegations of abuse, Schicketha “Skeet” Roy. Sheriff Roy is the person who forced Masha to leave a neighbor’s home where she had sought refuge and return to Faith. See Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Complaint Report. She was also a struggling real estate investor facing foreclosure. A few weeks after this seemingly chance encounter, Faith and Masha would move in with Sheriff Roy with Masha’s adoption subsidy check paying Sheriff Roy’s mortgage.
- In the early morning of September 28, 2006, I spoke with Sheriff Roy’s supervisor, Sargent Ken Harper, to express my concern about Masha’s mental condition. He reluctantly agreed to send another deputy out to investigate. He stated that if they had any concern, Masha would be evaluated and then “sent to a state hospital on the other side of the state” for a 72 hour evaluation.
- Masha was not sent to a state hospital, but to an expensive private hospital called Peachford in suburban Atlanta which recently treated Whitney Houston’s child. I immediately attempted to contact Masha’s doctor at Peachford, Mohammad Ahmad, M.D., who refused to return my calls. I eventually sent him this letter in my attempt to inform him of my concerns for Masha’s health and well being. He never responded.
- Faith’s new lawyer, equine law specialist and former nurse Diane Sternlieb (who also claimed to represent Masha) consulted with another lawyer, Gary Bunch, who is best known for his involvement with a lawsuit against the notorious Children of the Underground organization which was a loosely linked international network that hides runaway non-custodial parents and their children. During the next several years we were repeatedly informed that Faith was telling people that she and Masha were hiding from “Masha’s father” who was trying to kidnap her.
- On Friday, September 30, 2006, we contacted Masha’s Congressional office as a courtesy to advise them about her situation and our concerns for her health and safety. Faith had been declared an Angel in Adoption by Congress just a week earlier. Shockingly, with her daughter hospitalized in Peachford, Faith had found the time to call this same office which not only refused to listen to us, but declared this a “parental rights issue” and related that Masha was a “bad kid” who was “causing trouble” for her “loyal and dedicated” award-winning foster-adopt mom Faith Allen.
- Unbeknown to anyone, during the fall of 2006 Masha was being sought by the Cobb & Douglas Public Health Department for treatment due to a positive TB test. After several home visits, during which medication was refused (and Faith reported that Masha was being home schooled), the Health Department lost track of Masha when she moved to the neighboring county and the home of Sheriff Roy. They apparently never thought to call the state Division of Child and Family Services who was also looking for Masha.
- On October 23, 2009, I sent this packet of information to the Georgia state Division of Child and Family Services Field Program Specialist, Diane Aiken, assigned to investigate Masha’s case. Through the intervention of noted Georgia attorney B.J. Bernstein, the Georgia Attorney General’s office was contacted and a high-ranking attorney was assigned to lead the investigation. In an unusual move, the case was assigned to the state and not the county child welfare office. Unfortuantely, as she would late tell me, Ms. Aiken had no experience with mentally ill children or parents and did not even know what the word “DSM IV” meant. She was also unaware that Faith and Masha had moved from Douglas to Carroll county and was unwilling or unable to fully investigate the case which was eventually closed.
- On January 19, 2007, I sent this explosive letter to DeAlvah Hill Sims, Esq. director of the Georgia Office of the Child Advocate. Despite assurances to “open an investigation immediately” and countless follow up emails from our office, the child advocate never took any action in Masha’s case.
- Finally, on February 2, 2007, facing a six month statutory deadline, I filed this notice of claim to protect Masha’s right to pursue a future civil lawsuit against Allegheny County.
- After we received information that Masha was in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, we took numerous steps to inform officials there that Masha was at risk of further neglect and abuse and that she had important civil legal rights that needed to be protected. When I identified bankruptcy lawyer Timothy Sloan as Masha’s possible guardian ad litem, I sent him this letter. When he failed to respond, I sent him this letter. Finally, on December 17, 2007, I sent this letter to Masha with copies to her presumed guardian ad litem Timothy J. Sloan,
family court judge Norman Krumenacker, and Cambria County child welfare administrator Betzi White. The next day, a colleague who was assisting me with the case, informed me of the following:
“I received a call today from Tim Ayers who said that he had spoken with the people at Children & Youth Services, and he indicated that you were very much persona non grata with that agency, that Masha and her mother were aware of her rights, and that they had an attorney. They told Tim that there was no need for him to bring the matter to the attention of the Orphans’ Court Judge. Tim is one of the solicitors for the Agency, knows the people well, and therefore is inclined to believe them. He is therefore not in a position to do anything further and will not be meeting with the Judge.”
No action was taken to secure Masha’s civil rights for almost a year. During that time the agency most responsible for Masha’s placement with Matthew Mancuso, Reaching Out Thru International Adoption (ROTIA), went out of business.
This is just a brief list of the numerous efforts we took to secure Masha’s health and safety and civil legal rights. Despite hundreds of letters, faxes, phone calls and emails, no one ever responded, requested Masha’s file, or sought any further information about the very serious issues we uncovered. It took over three years–the entire remainder of Masha’s childhood–for the individuals responsible for Masha’s well-being to finally understand that what we were saying was true; Cambria County itself terminated Faith’s parental rights last month. For Masha it’s just another six years of her short life lost and forgotten.