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

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?

1 Reply to "Wikileaks on Masha Allen"

  • article47
    December 1, 2010 (1:10 am)

    That’s an interesting link. Did you know that Assange is a father who was reportedly embittered by a legal battle for custody of his child?

    According to the Christian Science Monitor: The child of footloose Australian parents, he had little formal childhood education, living as a sort of new age Tom Sawyer, he told a New Yorker writer in a lengthy profile published earlier this year. According to Assange, he moved 37 times before the age of 14, in part to avoid an allegedly abusive stepfather. He was a teenage computer hacker with famous skills who narrowly escaped prison, and also a teenage father. He later had a scarring tour through Australian courts in an effort to gain custody of his child.


    It’s no wonder that he pitches wikileaks as a place that leaks secrets just for the sake of leaking secrets. Everyone with experience in the family court systems of the world’s democracies knows that they are among the most secretive of all institutions in the way that they operate. Perhaps this is what convinced him to take the issue of transparency to such extremes.

    Emmanuel Lazaridis