Texas judge refuses bid to make child porn users pay damages
A federal judge in Texas Monday sentenced a man to two years in prison for possession of child porn, but refused to make him pay $3.4 million in restitution to the girl in the pictures. Prosecuting lawyers called the ruling a setback for victims of child porn.
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Judge Davis said it was too much. An order requiring Paroline to pay Amy the entire estimated restitution would violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on excessive punishments, the judge said in an 18-page opinion.Skip to next paragraph
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Instead, he said, the government must show which portion of Amy's injuries were proximately caused by Paroline's possession of the two photos. He said since the government was unable to precisely prove that issue, he would not order payment of restitution.
"Restitution in possession cases is an issue of first impression in district courts around the nation as the government has only recently begun seeking restitution from possessors of child pornography on behalf of victims," Davis said.
"The losses described in Amy's [expert] reports are generalized and caused by her initial abuse as well as the general existence and dissemination of her pornographic images," the judge said. "No effort has been made to show the portion of these losses specifically caused by Paroline's possession of Amy's two images."
A federal judge in Maine recently reached the same conclusion, refusing to order restitution after finding that the government had failed to prove a particular loss to Amy by that defendant's possession of her photo.
Other courts have taken a different approach. Two federal judges in Florida have ordered two different defendants in that state to pay Amy restitution of nearly $3.3 million and $3.7 million. A federal judge in California ordered payment of $5,000 in restitution to Amy.
"The court's decision is a serious set-back for victims of child pornography like Amy in their effort to obtain just and timely restitution for the ongoing crimes perpetrated against them," Mr. Marsh said in a written statement.
"How can we, as a country, justify awarding tens of thousands of dollars in damages to record companies for downloading a single song, while criminals who exploit children pay nothing," he said.
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