Share “High court nixes $3.4M award to child porn...”

High court nixes $3.4M award to child porn victim

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 23, 2014 at 4:39 pm •  Published: April 23, 2014
Advertisement

"It's significant that the Supreme Court said that based on this harm, you have a right to restitution," said Mai Fernandez, executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime. "But there's no guarantee that she'll be able to collect the full amount that's owed to her." Fernandez also said Congress should write a clear formula into the law to make it easier to force offenders to pay.

Had the woman prevailed at the Supreme Court, courts would not have had to determine exactly how much harm any one defendant caused her. Instead, all defendants would have been liable for the entire outstanding amount, raising the possibility that a few well-heeled people among those convicted might contribute most, if not all, of the remaining restitution.

Kennedy said such an approach would undermine a purpose of restitution, which is to make defendants aware that their crimes have victims, because many offenders would have to pay nothing.

Still, he said, "the victim should someday collect restitution for all her child pornography losses, but it makes sense to spread payment among a larger number of offenders in amounts more closely in proportion to their respective causal roles and their own circumstances."

Paul Cassell, who argued the woman's case at the Supreme Court, posted her statement on the Volokh Conspiracy website. "I really don't understand where this leaves me and other victims who now have to live with trying to get restitution probably for the rest of our lives. The Supreme Court said we should keep going back to the district courts over and over again but that's what I have been doing for almost six years now," she said.

She has so far received more than $1.75 million from people convicted of possessing pornographic images of her, Cassell told the court. Of that total, $1.2 million came from one man, Arthur Staples, a Virginia sheriff's deputy who had more than $2 million in retirement savings.

The case is Paroline v. Amy Unknown and U.S., 12-8561.

___

Follow Mark Sherman on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/shermancourt .