The New York Times just ran a story about a young woman named Amy (name changed). When she was a little girl, her uncle sexually abused her and took explicit pictures of her. Although Amy’s uncle is now in jail for his crimes, those pictures have been circulating on the internet for 10 years and are regularly found in the collections of individuals charged with possession of child pornography.
Every time her pictures are found in a child pornography bust, she is notified. Over the past 5 years she has been notified over 800 times. To put it in perspective, that number amounts to a notification approximately every 2-3 days.
The Fight for Restitution
Amy is now waging a fight against virtually all of the perverts who downloaded her pictures, claiming that each one of them should pay damages to cover the extensive cost of therapy, lawyer fees, and lost wages that resulted from her abuse, to the tune of $3.4 million. Some judges have found in her favor, requiring offenders to pay, but others have blocked her claim. But some disagree that possessors of child pornography should pay restitution to victims.
Just a little over a year ago, Amy won her first case against a Connecticut man, who was ordered to pay $200,000 in damages to Amy. Jonathan Turley, a professor of law at George Washington University, posted on his blog, that the ruling was
… Highly questionable. First, it would likely lead to a torrent of such demands for criminal restitution — depleting such funds. Second, it stretches personal accountability to a breaking point. There is no question that people who buy or trade such child pornography are contributors or facilitators of these terrible crimes. However, the extension of the definition of victim could lead to liability without limitation. Presumably, anyone watching porn movies with an underaged character or in possession of a magazine with such a picture could be similarly faced with restitution demands.
You Can’t Un-Abuse a Child
Turley goes on to say that someone guilty of possession of stolen property—not the original thief—is not normally required to give restitution to the victims. In Turley’s opinion, possession of stolen property is the same as possession of child pornography. But in the case of possession of stolen property, the property is taken from the 3rd part possessor and returned to the victim. In a child pornography case, there is no possibility of giving the victim back their dignity and security. There is no way to un-abuse the victim. Should restitution not be paid to a victim of a crime infinitely more damaging than petty larceny?
Someone in possession of stolen property—not necessarily the thief—may not even know that the property was stolen, believing that they bought property as part of a legitimate business transaction. Someone in possession of child pornography has absolutely no such defense. Someone in possession of child pornography searched for it, found it, and kept it, knowing exactly what it was.
Every 2-3 Days
Although many have tried to make the case that child pornography is a victimless crime, and many have said that possession of child pornography is a lesser crime than that of the original abuser, ask Amy what she feels like every 2-3 days when she receives a new notification that another pervert has salaciously drooled over her abuse.
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