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. U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has 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 Supreme Court on April 23rd, 2014 said that the existing restitution statute 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. “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.”
The Amy and Vicky Act would 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.