"I am today introducing legislation to help victims of child pornography receive the restitution that Congress has already said they deserve. The Supreme Court said last year that the current restitution statute, enacted more than 20 years ago, does not work for child pornography victims and this legislation will change that. I am joined by more than 30 Senators on both sides of the aisle including 14 on this committee. Do I have your commitment that under your leadership the Justice Department will aggressively prosecute child pornography and use tools like this legislation to help victims get the restitution they need to put their lives back together?"
Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-17), along with co-leads Rep. Tom Marino (PA-10), Rep. Suzanne DelBene (WA-01), and Rep. David Reichert (WA-08), re-introduced the bipartisan Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act of 2015, with the support of 49 House colleagues, to provide an effective restitution process for child pornography victims.
“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. “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. We must also hold any perpetrator accountable.”
One Mother's Story by Alice
How many people remember when they were a young child being given an innocent "timeout " for something they didn't do or something they did that was wrong? You had to sit in a chair facing a blank wall until a timer bell rang and your punishment was then over. For a victim of child pornography and sexual abuse, the timer never rings and you are left "staring at the blank wall" for life. Even though you didn't do anything you are paying the price.
My daughter is a victim of sexual abuse and child pornography.
On April 23, 2014, the United States Supreme Court issued a much-anticipated decision concerning federal criminal restitution for child pornography victims. The case, Paroline v. United States
, 134 S. Ct. 1710, 188 L. Ed. 2d 714 (2014), attracted 14 amicus briefs supporting a victim named Amy, whose road to the Supreme Court started in 2008.Victims of child pornography are harmed twice: first, by the sex abuse and sexual assault committed against them and, second, by the subsequent distribution and collection of the images and videos depicting their sexual abuse. The worldwide, ubiquitous circulation of a victim’s child pornography is a never-ending invasion of privacy that is both psychologically traumatizing and emotionally unsettling.
Today, forty four attorneys general endorsed the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act of 2014
and requested that Congress bring the bill to a vote.Calling the United States Supreme Court decision in Paroline v. United States
"counter to the legal opinions of the attorneys general of 35 states and territories, expressed in an amicus brief
urging the Supreme Court to allow full restitution to victims of child pornography," the attorneys general criticized the high court's decision as forcing "victims to pursue a continuous stream of defendants, recovering very little in each case."The Paroline
decision "disincentivizes victims from seeking the resources they need for therapy, medical care, lost wages and other needed services" while protecting "defendants from having to pay substantial costs to those they have harmed."
Despite Congress' longstanding mandate
that each and every federal child pornography defendant pay restitution to victims, in reality the vast majority of convicted child pornography criminals pay no restitution at all. New facts present a dismal reality for victims of child rape and sexual assault which results in child pornography.
The United States Sentencing Commission
recently compiled some damning statistics
about child pornography offenders subject to fines and restitution.
The Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act will guarantee that victims receive restitution from every convicted criminal in every case. No longer will victims be relegated to a handful of defendants paying token amounts in just a few dozen cases per year.
Mandatory restitution should be just that—mandatory. Child pornography victims deserve no less than full compensation for their endless online exploitation. Congress must fix the law to restore justice and fairness to a restitution system which has gone seriously awry.
United States District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., in one of the first reported cases since the Supreme Court's April 23, 2014 decision in United States v. Paroline
, illustrates the growing frustration within the federal courts which are struggling to implement the Court's problematic directive.
Last week, another federal district court struggling to implement the Supreme Court's decision in Paoline
admonished Congress to fix the law.
"While I do not necessarily agree with the dissent that “[t]he statute as written allows no recovery,” I certainly agree with the admonition that “Congress [should] fix it.”
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.
“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.”
On June 5, 2014, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals—in the first federal circuit court ruling since the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Paroline
in April—held that a child pornography defendant is not liable for a victim's lifetime losses. This order seriously undermines the ability of child pornography victims to recover full restitution from any defendant.This unpublished order
in United States v. Wilson
is yet another critical reason why Congress must act now to pass the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act of 2014.The Amy and Vicky Act restores Congressional intent that the “full amount of the victim’s losses” includes “lifetime” medical services relating to physical, psychiatric, or psychological care; “lifetime” physical and occupational therapy or rehabilitation; and “lifetime” lost income. These enumerated losses are intended to be “lifetime” aggregate losses.