Restitution Debates in Child Pornography Cases

A specific case has drawn attention to how damages are rewarded in child pornography cases, as well as who exactly is responsible.  ABA Journal recently completed an article to chronicle the case of a girl who is known as “Amy,” and two pictures her uncle, Doyle Paroline, took of her when she was a child.  Paroline has been found guilty of child pornography.  However, the pictures have been posted online and are apparently notoriously popular with online child pornography traffickers.  This has resulted in a debate as to who exactly should pay restitution to Amy.

        Amy sought 3.4 million dollars in damages under the Violence Against Women Act, which sets penalties and restitution for sexual assault, domestic violence and those who suffer from child pornography; the restitution would fund costs spent towards psychological treatment, lost income and attorney fees.  However, the issue comes with online access; as of January 2012, Amy had filed claims in seven hundred and forty four cases and had been noted in more than one thousand five hundred.  As a result, her legal team has argued that each person who possessed the pictures should be liable for damages.

        The trial has gone through a number of courts; the Supreme Court urges victims such as Amy to continually seek justice through a variety of District Courts until success is found.  However, one District Court declined to award Amy her damages, while the United States Circuit Court Appeals reversed this ruling.  After rampant back and forth decisions, Amy released a statement via her attorney, expressing her discouragement at the hands of the legal system.  She believes it’s horrible enough that victims like her have to live with the crimes against them their whole lives.  Now, they must continue to rehash the crime over and over again in varying courts to seek the restitution they deserve.  In essence, Amy feels she will be seeking restitution for the rest of her life, retelling her tale year after year, court after court.  However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel; the court has definitively decided she should receive restitution; it is only a matter of the amount and who should pay.


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