Panyia Vang was a 14-year-old aspiring singer in Laos' countryside in 2006 when a much older man from Minnesota flew to her home and offered her a music video audition. After a 12-hour bus ride to the capital city of Vientiane, Thiawachu Prataya took the girl to a hotel and brutally raped her, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Vang, who found herself pregnant and bound to a traditional Hmong marriage with Prataya, moved to Minnesota with her father. There, Prataya, 43, threatened to deny her visitation rights to their child unless he could continue to have sex with her.
Her attorney Linda Miller, has filed an unprecedented lawsuit that attempts to recover monetary damages for violations of federal laws regarding child sex tourism and trafficking. U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen is reviewing a summary judgment motion. Vang has asked for $450,000, the minimum amount allowed under the statute for the three criminal counts alleged in the suit. Miller brought the suit under Masha's Law, a 2006 federal statute that gives children the right to sue anyone who produces, distributes or possesses their pornographic images. The act is named for a 5-year-old who was adopted from a Russian orphanage by a man who began sexually abusing her the night she arrived in the U.S. The law allows the plaintiff to sue anyone who has downloaded the pornographic images.