Herring supports federal bill providing restitution to child pornography victims

mark herringToday, Attorney General Mark Herring, along with 44 fellow attorneys general, sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a House Judiciary Subcommittee expressing support for the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act of 2014 (S. 2301/H.R. 4981).

The legislation would allow full restitution to victims of child pornography to pay for needed resources including mental health treatment, medical care, lost wages and other needed recovery services. The attorneys general urged the committees to bring the bill to a vote.

“Child exploitation is the most vile and heartbreaking crime that my office prosecutes,” said Attorney General Herring. “This important legislation will help support victims’ recovery by providing some measure of accountability and compensation for the emotional trauma caused by those who perpetrate these heinous crimes. My office works each and every day in partnership with local and federal partners, as well as Virginia’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces, to fight child exploitation. We will never waver in our commitment to protecting Virginia’s young people and to putting away those who would seek to exploit them and do them harm.”

In 2014, Attorney General Herring’s office has prosecuted or assisted in the investigation of 85 cases involving child pornography. Thus far in 2014, 24 defendants prosecuted by the Attorney General have been sentenced to a total of 186 years and 6 months of active incarceration, in addition to one life sentence. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, cases prosecuted across the country for possession, distribution, receipt, and transportation of child pornography increased from 624 cases in 2004 to more than 2,000 cases in 2012.

In April 2014, the decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in Paroline v. United States affirmed that victims of child pornography can receive restitution from those whose actions cause harm to the victim, but it limited the number of potential defendants who could be held accountable. The attorneys general’s letter points out that the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act would help victims seek more just compensation from more perpetrators. The letter reads in part:

“Victims of child pornography are constantly reminded of the abuse of their past, and there is no way to erase the photographs from the Internet or prevent them from being shared by others.

“The Supreme Court decision would force victims to pursue a continuous stream of defendants, recovering very little in each case. The emotional and monetary costs, as well as time required to seek restitution from multiple defendants, disincentivizes victims from seeking the resources they need for therapy, medical care, lost wages and other needed services. However, the decision helps protect defendants from having to pay substantial costs to those they have harmed.

“The Amy and Vicky Act provides victims with meaningful restitution from the multiple defendants who produce, distribute or possess images of child pornography, including those who have not been identified

“Providing timely and meaningful restitution will ensure that the growing number of victims can begin to rebuild their lives by fully recovering the financial losses caused by child pornography.”

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