In Paroline v. United States, Defendant was convicted of possessing two images of “Amy” being photographed as her uncle sexually abused her when she was a young girl (8 years old). The district court awarded “Amy” nothing in restitution, despite her documented losses of approximately $3.4 million for harms including future counseling and lost income. On appeal, the Appellate Court reversed and ordered defendant to pay “Amy’s” full losses in restitution. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded.
This reversal came despite the Court’s recognition that the victim’s costs “are direct and foreseeable results of child-pornography crimes, including possession”, that “every viewing of child pornography is a repetition of the victim’s abuse,” and that Congress’ clear intent was “that victims of child pornography be compensated by the perpetrators who contributed to their anguish”. The Court cautioned that restitution awards should not “be a token or nominal amount”; in light of the varied amounts in restitution awards issued over the years this statement is paltry solace for these victims who have already endured too much.
In light of today’s decision in Paroline v Amy Unknown, the National Center for Victims of Crime calls on Congress to re-draft the statute to ensure that victims get just and fair restitution. Justice requires that we shift the burden of collection, which is currently on the victims, on to those who participate in this illegal trade.
“The Supreme Court has stated 9-0 that child pornography is not a victimless crime and that this harm creates a right to restitution. Congress must step up and provide victims with a roadmap to enforce that right,” said Mai Fernandez, Executive Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime.