Cartwright Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Create Effective Restitution Process for Victims of Child Pornography

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-17), along with co-leads Rep. Tom Cotton (R‑AK‑4), Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1), Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX-14), Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA-27), and Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA-4) introduced the bipartisan Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act of 2014, with the support of 69 House colleagues, to provide an effective restitution process for child pornography victims.

U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have introduced the legislation in the Senate.

“Amy” and “Vicky” are victims in two of the most widely-distributed child pornography series in the world. In Paroline v. United States, which reviewed Amy’s case, the U.S. Supreme Court on April 23rd, ruled that existing restitution law is not suited for cases like theirs because it requires proving the impossible: how one person’s possession of particular images concretely harmed an individual victim. That standard puts the burden on victims to forever chase defendants and recover next to nothing.

“Victims of child pornography deserve an effective restitution process to help alleviate the suffering they have endured. We must support the victims of these atrocious crimes and ensure that they receive what is entitled to them: full protection and compensation,” Rep. Cartwright said. “Furthermore, we must hold perpetrators accountable for their involvement in this crime. It is impossible to measure or understand the psychological harm done by these types of crimes, which is why we need to work together to strengthen the voice of these victims, and help them rebuild their lives.”

“Sex-trafficking is an egregious crime and those who participate should be held accountable to the fullest extent,” Rep. Cotton said. “The Amy and Vicky Act makes the well-being of victims and their recovery a top-priority in our fight to end this heinous exploitation of children. I am grateful to my colleague, Congressman Cartwright, for working with me on this legislation and I look forward to it advancing in the House.”

“Victims of child pornography deserve a fair chance to put their lives back together. But, they face unique challenges in our legal system – the more people who viewed a pornographic image, the more difficult it is to recover damages for their suffering. We must make victims like Amy and Vicky whole. This bill provides victims the tools to do just that. We must pass it to ensure full compensation for victims of these horrific crimes,” said Rep. Chu.

The Amy and Vicky Act will establish a practical process that not only places the burden on defendants, but also provides real and timely restitution for victims while addressing the Supreme Court’s concerns in Paroline. The bill considers the total harm to the victim, including from individuals who may not yet have been identified. Medical services, therapy, rehabilitation, transportation, child care, and lost income would be included among the victim’s losses.

Secondly, the bill would require real and timely restitution. Federal law already provides a process for creating a restitution payment schedule. Finally, the bill would allow defendants who have contributed to the same victim’s harm to spread the restitution cost among themselves.

Building Empowerment by Stopping Trafficking, ECPAT USA, National Crime and Victim Law Institute, and National Organization for Victim Assistance have endorsed this legislation.

House Original Cosponsors (74): Bachus, Blumenauer, Brady (PA), Braley, Brooks (IN), Brown, Chu, Cicilline, Clark, Coffman, Cohen, Cooper, Cole, Cotton, Crowley, Cummings, Susan Davis, DelBene, DeGette, DeFazio, DeLauro, DeSantis, Deutch, Duncan (TN), Eshoo, Farr, Fattah, Fudge, Garcia, Gene Green, Hastings (FL), Hastings (WA), Honda, Israel, Jackson Lee, Jordan, Kaptur, Robin Kelly, Peter King, Kuster, John Larson, Lowey, Marino, Meehan, Matsui, McCarthy (NY), Meadows, Messer, George Miller, Meeks, Mullin, Neal, Nolan, Norton, Pascrell, Payne, Perry, Rangel, Reichert, Ros-Lehtinen, Ruiz, Schwartz, Shea-Porter, Slaughter, Speier, Stockman, Terry, Titus, Van Hollen, Vargas, Vela, Weber, Wilson (FL), Yarmuth