SALT LAKE CITY — In response to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Sen. Orrin Hatch signed on to a bill to better help victims of child pornography.
The Utah Republican and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., introduced the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act on Wednesday. "Amy" and "Vicky" are the victims in two of the most widely distributed child pornography series in the world.
The bill comes on the heels of a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision last month that federal law limits how much money victims of child pornography can recover from people who viewed their images online. The ruling threw out a nearly $3.4 million judgment for a woman whose childhood rape has been widely seen on the Internet.
Two dissenting justices called on Congress to change the law to benefit victims.
Hatch said the Supreme Court made it clear that the ball was in Congress’ court to give child pornography victims the tools necessary to seek restitution from those responsible for perpetuating the crime.
"The Amy and Vicky Act is that solution," he said.
University of Utah law professor Paul Cassell, who represented Amy in the case, said victims of child pornography crimes deserve full restitution from criminals who have harmed them, and the bill would make that happen.
The legislation considers the total harm to the victim, including from individuals who may not yet have been identified, and requires real and timely restitution. It also allows defendants who have contributed to the same victim’s harm to spread the restitution cost among themselves.
The justices said courts can order convicted child pornographers to pay restitution to their victims, but only to the extent that there is a strong tie between the victim's losses and the convicts' actions. In the case, a federal appeals court held Doyle Randall Paroline liable for the entire amount of the woman's losses, though his computer contained only two images of her, among more than 150 illicit photographs.
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