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Senate Approves Damages for Victims of Child Pornography

On February 11, the Senate approved, 98-0, the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act (S. 295). The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill on February 5.

Sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), S. 295 would allow victims of child pornography to seek full restitution for their losses, including lifetime medical services and lost income and attorneys’ fees, from “each and every perpetrator who contributes to their anguish.” The bill was drafted in response to the Supreme Court’s April 2014 ruling in Paroline vs. United States, which held that victims may seek restitution from a perpetrator only to the extent that the perpetrator is the proximate cause of the victim’s harm.

The bill’s findings note that “[t]he harms caused by child pornography are more extensive than the harms caused by child sex abuse alone because child pornography is a permanent record of the abuse of the depicted child, and the harm to the child is exacerbated by its circulation. Every viewing of child pornography is a repetition of the victim’s original childhood sexual abuse.”

The measure would establish guidelines for determining restitution in instances where a victim was harmed by one perpetrator, or where a victim was harmed by more than one perpetrator.

 

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