Child pornography act clears Senate

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sens. Orrin Hatch and Chuck Schumer cheered Thursday’s Senate passage of the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act.

“I’m grateful to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their help in shepherding through this important bill,” Hatch said. “Through this legislation, we are telling future offenders that they will pay for these heinous crimes, and even more importantly, we are telling victims that help is on the way.”

The Amy and Vicky Act would create an effective, balanced restitution process for victims of child pornography that also responds to the Supreme Court’s decision in Paroline v. United States. Hatch and Schumer both signed onto a friend of the court brief in the Paroline case last year. Amy and Vicky are the victims in two of the most widely-distributed child pornography series in the world.

The Amy and Vicky Act does three things that reflect the nature of these crimes:

  1. It considers the total harm to the victim, including from individuals who may not yet have been identified
  2. It requires real and timely restitution; and,
  3. It allows defendants who have contributed to the same victim’s harm to spread the restitution cost among themselves.

The senators today both urged the House to quickly follow suit and get the legislation to the President’s desk.

“In the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Paroline, the victims of child pornography were placed in an unfair and tragic predicament: the more photos and offenders there are in a given place, the more difficult it is for the victim to recover from the trauma and to seek damages,” Schumer said. “Victims of child pornography experience significant trauma, our laws shouldn’t add to that pain by making it more difficult to get the restitution that they deserve. Each victim deserves full and fair restitution, and this legislation will help them achieve exactly that.”

In a letter of support for the legislation introduced by Hatch and Schumer, Amy wrote:

After all this time and all the hearings and appeals and the Supreme Court, I definitely agree that restitution needs improvement and hopefully this bill, the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Restitution Improvement Act of 2014, can finally make restitution happen for all victims of this horrible crime.

In a separate letter of support, Vicky wrote:

I sincerely hope that Congress will take the time to create some guidelines for restitution of child pornography possession and distribution that will protect the victim and enable them to receive full compensation.

Professor Paul Cassell, who argued the case for Amy before the Supreme Court for the University of Utah Appellate Clinic, said, “Victims of child pornography crimes deserve full restitution from criminals who have harmed them, and this bill will make sure that happens.”

Submitted by the Offices Of Senator Orrin Hatch

Resources

  • One-page summary of the legislation can be found here, and the bill text can be found here

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