The New Amy, Vicky, and Andy Act: A Positive Step Towards Full Restitution for Child Pornography Victims
In this law review article which was recently published in the Federal Sentencing Reporter, Professor Paul G. Cassell and attorney James R. Marsh describe the impact of the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2018 ("AVAA") which was signed into law on December 7, 2018.
The authors describe the need for restitution for child pornography victims using the story of the lead victim in the Act (“Amy”) as an illustration of why restitution is needed. They then review the problematic legal regime that resulted from the Supreme Court’s Paroline decision, noting some of the confusion in the lower courts following the ruling.
Against this backdrop, they discuss the AVAA, explaining how it will be a useful step forward for victims of these crimes. One even more important possibility is that the Act could set a precedent for expanding restitution for victims in the future.
In this law review article, published in the prestigious American Criminal Law Review at Georgetown Law, distinguished professors Richard W. Wright and Tsachi Keren-Paz discussParoline v. United States (2014), in which the Supreme Court considered the statutory liability of a convicted possessor of child pornography to a victim whose images he possessed for the pecuniary losses that she suffered due to her knowledge of the widespread viewing of those images.
This article critiques the Justices’ opinions in Paroline as part of a broader discussion that is intended to clarify and distinguish the causation, injury, legal responsibility and allocation of liability issues in general and as applied in particular to situations involving mass sexual abuse, while also criticizing the Court’s ill-considered dicta that would make any compensatory award in civil as well as criminal cases subject to the Constitutional restrictions on criminal punishment.
On Friday, President Trump signed S. 2152, the Amy Vicky & Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2018, ushering in major reforms for victims of child pornography and online exploitation.
The AVAA, which was long-championed by Senator Orrin G. Hatch [R-UT], answers the call of Justice Sonya Sotomayor in Paroline v. United States that "in the end, of course, it is Congress that will have the final say."
The AVAA was created to address both Chief Justice Roberts' and Justice Sotomayor's invocation to fix the law. The bill enjoyed not only wide bi-partisan support—passing both chambers by unanimous consent—it was also endorsed by major victims rights and law enforcement organizations nationwide.
As Senator Hatch wrote in his signing statement "This legislation will help provide meaningful assistance for child pornography victims to support their recovery and allow them to reclaim their lives. This is a momentous day and many years in the making."
Last Thursday, Representative Trey Gowdy [R-SC] introduced H.R. 6845, the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2018. Co-sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte [R-VA], it is the long-anticipated companion bill to S. 2152 which was introduced by Senator Orin Hatch [R-UT] earlier this year.
This is an excellent bill which is strongly supported by Amy, Vicky, and Andy. It improves on the Senate's hard work where an amended version of S. 2152 will be considered this week. The House Bill is expected to pass by unanimous consent today.
The U.S. House should enact a sensible bill to provide restitution to victims of child pornography. The Senate passed the bill in January.
Victims of child pornography are entitled to restitution from those who victimize them, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2014. But the means for doing so are incredibly burdensome, and Congress should change that.
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill to do just that in January, but it has not made any progress in the House.
Abuse and Incest National Network. Her group has endorsed the proposal along with other organizations including the National Center for Victims of Crime.
This bill is a good compromise between previous Senate and House proposals. The House should not hesitate to take the bill up and pass it.
Last week, attorneys general from both political parties across the entire country signed a letter to House Speaker Ryan, Leader Pelosi, Chair Goodlatte, and Ranking Member Nadler calling for the swift passage by the House of Representatives of the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2017 (S. 2152).
This unequivocal support has already had a meaningful impact on the House's consideration of this important bill which is now being finalized for eventual passage.
After several sincere but ultimately failed attempts to pass legislation to simplify and streamline child pornography victim restitution in the federal courts, the Senate has once again demonstrated its commitment to children by ratifying the AVAA late last night by unanimous consent. The United States Senate came together in a bi-partisan coalition of 27 cosponsors, 12 Democrats and 15 Republicans, to do the right thing far from the spotlight, rhetoric, or Twitter feeds.
The real challenge remains the House of Representatives which has steadfastly blocked reform for the past four years.
Now is the time for advocates, victims, and their supporters, to encourage the House to quickly consider and pass Senate Bill 2152. Child pornography restitution reform is long overdue. Let's make 2018 the year when victims of childhood sexual abuse and online exploitation get the help and support they need. The Senate's right, left, and everyone in between has spoken decisively. Now it's up to the House to join them.