Supreme Court Rules Child Porn Victims Can Sue Porn Traffickers

As a child injury attorney and a father myself, I think that the sexual molestation or abuse of a child is one of the most disgusting and despicable acts a person can commit. I am incredibly grateful for the work of those law enforcement officers and prosecutors who hold the guilty accountable for their crimes. However, as a plaintiff’s lawyer, I know that criminal proceedings only serve to punish those at fault. They do nothing to compensate the victims.

 

In order for a child abuse victim to receive any sort of compensation for what they’ve suffered through, they must make a personal injury claim against their abuser and/or any liable insurance policies which might be held responsible under the circumstances. (Every case is different, which is why it is necessary to consult with an attorney.)

 

Thankfully, the civil laws surrounding compensation for child sex attack victims are evolving all the time. Within the past week alone, a significant case went before the Supreme Court, who ruled that children who had been not only sexually assaulted, but also photographed or videotaped are entitled to recover damages from those pornographers who distributed the images and videos.

 

The specific case in question is that of “Amy,” who was raped and filmed by her uncle at the age of 8 and 9. When she turned 17, she learned that the videos had gone viral on the internet, at which point she sought legal counsel. Since then, courts have determined that she is owed an estimated $3.4 million in compensation for the psychotherapy, lost wages, and other damages she has suffered as a result of the trauma she has experienced.

 

However, although the Sexual Exploitation and Other Abuse of Children Act passed by Congress established penalties and restitution which would clearly apply in this case, the act stopped short of specifying who should pay what.

 

Amy’s lawyers had argued that the defendant in this case (Doyle Randall Paroline, a convicted pedophile) should be held liable for the maximum amount he could pay – and that every child porn trafficker of the images containing Amy should similarly be held liable until the full $3.4 million had been paid. So far, they have won more than $1.7 million in restitution from 182 previous cases.

 

The justices of the Supreme Court issued a compromise ruling on the issue, while vehemently clarifying that pornographers should pay victims. The opinion stated that restitution is proper, but only to the extent that the individual defendant’s offence proximately caused a victim’s losses, so that while the penalty an individual pornographer or child pornography trafficker must pay would not be merely token, it should also not be severe.

 

This could cause difficulties for child porn victims in that it will take longer to recover the full and fair compensation they are owed in such cases due to having to make cases against multiple peddlers, but their right to recover compensation has been strongly backed up. Overall, it is a victory for child sex abuse victims.

Mark A. Anderson
Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas
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