Today, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)—the senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee—alongside Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), introduced the bipartisan Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2017 S. 2152, named for the victims in some of the world’s most widely circulated child pornography series.
This crucial legislation improves the process for seeking restitution from child pornography defendants. The bill also offers victims a monetary assistance alternative from the Crime Victim Fund, requires the appointment of a guardian to act on behalf of the victim in court, and allows victims access to the defendants’ images depicting them.
“Child pornography is different than other crimes in the way it continuously hurts victims,” Hatch said. “Victims of this insidious crime deserve assistance tailored to how often the offense imposes harm, especially when images are trafficked on the internet. The Amy, Vicky, and Andy Act will provide meaningful assistance for victims to help them recover and reclaim their lives.”
“The sexual abuse and exploitation of children is one of the most heinous crimes and child-pornography victims are affected for the rest of their lives,” Feinstein said. “Our bill makes it easier for these victims to secure restitution from those that produce and traffic child pornography.”
“Child pornography is a heinous crime with lifelong effects for its victims,” Toomey said. “Current federal law does not do enough to enable victims to recover restitution from criminals who produce and traffic child pornography. This bipartisan bill responds to these shortcomings by helping victims of child pornography obtain much needed restitution for the terrible harms that they have suffered.”
The bill is named after victims depicted in some of the most widely circulated child pornography series in the world.
Amy wrote: “Thank you Senator Hatch for not giving up. There are lots of important things going on in our country right now and I know that a bunch of abused kids aren’t always at the top of the list. But you haven’t given up and neither have we.”
Vicky and her husband wrote: “This bill is an important and needed step in the process of healing and making those who have harmed so many accountable for the damage done. We are thankful for the efforts of all who have brought this to this point and urge Congress to go the last mile to make this happen.”
Andy, a Utah resident, wrote: “I’m lucky, and so is Vicky and Amy and so many other mostly silent victims out there, to have you on our side and everyone else in the Senate. Just knowing that so many important people think that we matter, that the terrible things that happened to us as kids are being considered all the way up in the Congress of the United States….If we can all agree on something, it’s that victims deserve justice. Thank you for helping us get it.”
The AVAA 2017 will accomplish the following:
- Expresses Congress’ recognition of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children’s statement that child pornography harms are “psychologically intertwined” to address the Galan decision’s disaggregation requirement.
- Establishes two categories of child pornography crimes subject to restitution: trafficking in child pornography (advertising, distribution, and possession) and child pornography production.
- Victims of child pornography production will receive the full amount of their losses in restitution.
- In each case, victims of trafficking in child pornography will receive at minimum $3000, and up to 1% of the full amount of their losses when those losses are greater than $300,000.
- Once a victim has received the full amount of their losses, the liability of each defendant who was ordered to pay restitution terminates.
- The full amount of a victim’s losses includes losses “as a proximate result of all trafficking in child pornography offenses involving the same victim” (aggregate harm).
- Along with the standard categorical losses, victims can also receive restitution for “any other relevant losses incurred.”
- Victims of child pornography production are entitled to receive a onetime payment of $35,000 in fixed compensation which is indexed to inflation.
- Attorney’s fees in fixed compensation claims are capped at 10% and are tied to a requirement that the court appoint a guardian ad litem for victims of child pornography production pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3509(h).
- The court must assess defendants in child pornography cases to contribute to a newly established child pornography victims reserve fund.
- Victims of child pornography trafficking enjoy the same priority in payment as the reserve fund. Victims of child pornography production are given a priority in payment over other victims, the fund, and all other assessments.
- $10 million annually will be set aside, along with assessments paid into the reserve, to provide victims of child pornography production with a onetime fixed compensation payment.
- Child pornography victims will enjoy equal rights with criminal defendants to review child pornography depicting them for the purposes of victim identification, expert testimony, forensic review, and treatment.
- The Department of Justice must deliver a report to Congress within 24 months after passage about the Act’s implementation.