Meanwhile, 41-year-old Matthew Mancuso, a divorced father in Pennsylvania, was looking for a little girl to adopt. He contacted a New Jersey adoption agency requesting information on 5-year-old Caucasian girls, and chose Masha from a videotape. After months of waiting, Mancuso traveled to Russia to meet his new daughter. He visited Masha several times at the orphanage, took her to nice dinners, and bought her candy.
To Masha, Mr. Mancuso seemed like her knight in shining armor. But nothing could have been farther from the truth. What she didn't know was the adoption agency failed to properly check her new father's background. No phone calls were made to his ex-wife or to his biological daughter. Back in the states, Masha expected a nice American home with a bedroom all her own.
Her new father turned out to be a diabolical child pornographer who forced Masha to live as his sex slave. Mancuso took hundreds of pornographic pictures of Masha, then posted them on the Internet, where he traded them with other pedophiles. He dressed Masha as a young bride and forced her to pretend they were getting married. He chained Masha in his basement. He starved his adopted daughter to keep her young body from maturing. And, he forced Masha to take showers with him every day.
Masha attended school, but says she was too scared to tell anyone about her situation. Masha's neighbor friends would sometimes come over to play, but sleepovers weren't allowed. For five whole years, Masha says, nobody—not a single social worker—came to check on little Masha.
During their investigation, police officials had no way of knowing that the little girl in the photographs was Mancuso's adopted daughter. Her rescue, says Sergeant Zaglifa, was an unexpected reward for what he calls the "physically and emotionally draining" work of capturing child predators.
Sergeant Zaglifa says that to gain proper perspective on the severity of child pornography, it's important to call them "child sex abuse images." "When those images are being made," says Sergeant Zaglifa, "that's sex abuse in progress." He offers his expert advice for how parents can protect their children: "The number one thing is: No chat rooms."
Two years ago, Matthew Mancuso was sentenced to 15 years on federal pornography charges. He also pleaded guilty to the horrible sex crimes he committed against Masha and was sentenced to serve 35 to 70 years in prison. The house where he and Masha lived has since been sold to a new family.
After years of abuse, Rachelle's parents divorced when she was 10 years old. But she says the sexual abuse intensified during weekend visitations with her father. After six years of torment, Rachelle claims Mancuso stopped when she reached puberty. No longer interested in Rachelle, the two lost nearly all contact.
Rachelle never revealed the terrible secret about her father to anyone, until the FBI contacted her during their investigation. She now feels that if she had told someone, Masha might have been spared. "It goes through my mind every day and I feel so much guilt," says Rachelle. "And I feel partly responsible for what happened to her, and I beat myself up about it all the time because I feel that it was my fault that I did not say anything."
Meeting Masha for the first time was a gut-wrenching experience for Rachelle. "I want to tell Masha I'm very sorry," says Rachelle. "I really wish that I had said something when I was a kid because maybe Masha would have been spared this hell of a life that she had to go through."
Oprah commends Rachelle for admitting her feelings. "I want you to let go of the guilt of it," Oprah tells Rachelle. "But I really do think that it's good that you're here saying this, because I want every child out there who is being molested to know that whoever is molesting you is going to molest somebody else."
"Not only when you speak up do you save yourself, you get to save a whole lot of other people, too," says Oprah.
Because of the deplorable treatment Masha suffered, Faith says that in many ways, Masha was like a baby she had to teach. "When she first came to me, I had to teach her how she had to bathe, how she had to eat," says Faith.
Today, Masha finally has a bedroom of her own. Though her wounds are far from healed, life might be looking up for this young survivor. "I feel really safe and happy for the first time," says Masha. "It's like starting over."