In Response to Recent Supreme Court Decision, Senators Hatch and Schumer Introduce Bill to Strengthen the Law for Child Pornography Victims
U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a current member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), current member of the Judiciary Committee, will introduce today the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act to create an effective, balanced restitution process for victims of child pornography that also responds to the Supreme Court’s decision in Paroline v. United States. Hatch and Schumer both signed onto a friend of the court brief in the Paroline case. “Amy” and “Vicky” are the victims in two of the most widely-distributed child pornography series in the world. The Amy and Vicky Act does three things that reflect the nature of these crimes: (1) it considers the total harm to the victim, including from individuals who may not yet have been identified; (2) it requires real and timely restitution; and, (3) it allows defendants who have contributed to the same victim’s harm to spread the restitution cost among themselves. The bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
“Victims of child pornography suffer a unique kind of harm and deserve a unique restitution process, and the Amy and Vicky Act is that solution,” Hatch said. “In the Paroline decision, the Supreme Court made it clear that the ball was in Congress’ court in order to give child pornography victims the tools necessary to seek restitution from those responsible for perpetuating this heinous crime. The Amy and Vicky Act is that solution. I’m proud to have the support of Amy, Vicky, and so many individuals and organizations who seek to work with Senator Schumer and me and other supporters of this bill to strengthen the voice of child pornography victims.”
“The tragic effect of the Supreme Court’s decision in Paroline was this: the more widely viewed the pornographic image of a victim, and the more offenders there are, the more difficult it is for the victim to recover for her anguish and her damages,” said Schumer. “But there should not be safety in numbers. Senator Hatch and I, and our other cosponsors, will work hard to make sure that victims of these most heinous of crimes get, at a minimum, what they are entitled to get – full restitution for the full harm caused by these terrible acts.”
In a letter of support for the legislation introduced by Hatch and Schumer, Amy wrote that “After all this time and all the hearings and appeals and the Supreme Court, I definitely agree that restitution needs improvement and hopefully this bill, the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Restitution Improvement Act of 2014, can finally make restitution happen for all victims of this horrible crime.” In a separate letter of support, Vicky wrote that “I sincerely hope that Congress will take the time to create some guidelines for restitution of child pornography possession and distribution that will protect the victim and enable them to receive full compensation.”
Professor Paul Cassell, who argued the case for Amy before the Supreme Court for the University of Utah Appellate Clinic, said that “Victims of child pornography crimes deserve full restitution from criminals who have harmed them, and this bill will make sure that happens.”