On New Year’s Day 2002, 13-year-old Alicia Kozakiewicz disappeared from her suburban Pennsylvania home following a family dinner. Suspicions that Alicia may have been lured by someone she had met while chatting on the Internet proved to be true.
For four days, Alicia was beaten, tortured, and raped while she was held captive in the basement by a 38-year-old computer programmer whom she met in an online chat room months earlier. The horrific images of Alicia’s abuse were posted on the Internet by her abductor. Acting on a tip from one of her abductor’s online acquaintances, authorities were able to track her to a townhouse in Virginia where they found her chained to the floor with a locked collar around her neck in what Alicia describes as a “dungeon.”
Alicia originally developed a close online relationship with “Christine,” whom she believed was a 14-year-old girl with long, red hair. Alicia later learned that “Christine” was a 42-year-old man, but in the online world where “identity” is often ambiguous, Alicia remained friends with “Christine.” Eventually, “Christine” introduced Alicia to the man who would become her abductor.
Alicia’s abductor is presently serving out a 20-year prison sentence. Alicia considers herself “one of the lucky ones,” and she dedicated the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s 2007 Courage Award to the many children who were killed or are still missing.
Alicia is determined to prevent other children from suffering her fate. Today she devotes her time speaking to students about the dangers they can face while online and warning them to avoid engaging in risky online behaviors. She is also the inspiration behind a proposal called Alicia’s Law (passed into law in Virginia in 2008), which provides state funding to law enforcement agents who target online criminals involved in child pornography and who attempt to lure children into face-to-face meetings.
While warning the U.S. Congress House Judiciary Committee against the dangers of Internet sex crimes in 2007, Alicia shared the harsh reality of the struggles she still faces today as a result of her horrific kidnapping. “I cry inside. I mourn for that child that was me. The child that was stolen from me. Make no mistake—that child was murdered. The boogey man is real. And he lives on the Net. He lived in my computer—and he lives in yours...While you are sitting here, he is at home with your children.”
Alicia is a highly sought-after motivational speaker, internet safety expert, author, and actress who has inspired millions through her powerful on-screen and in-person appearances. Passionate and straight-from-the-heart, Alicia motivates her audiences to transcend life’s challenges, pursue their passions, and discover their purpose. Alicia’s extraordinary life story exemplifies the strength of the human spirit’s ability to overcome adversity and to deny defeat.
Founder of The Alicia Project , for the past 17 years Alicia has pioneered insightful Internet safety and sexual exploitation awareness presentations to children and adults. One of the most vocal and outspoken advocates for child safety legislation, Alicia has testified before Congress and works to pass Alicia’s Law, her namesake, which provides funding to the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force enabling them to rescue endangered children.