Federal criminal law makes it a crime to distribute or possess digital images of minors engaged in sexual activity, an offense commonly known as possession of child pornography. According to this case, a person who is identified in the child in a child pornographic image may be considered a victim under 18 U.S.C. § 2259(a) which provided for restitution for victims. Here, the defendant was required to pay restitution for the harm caused to the then-child now adult, by the defendant having viewed the images on the theory that the victim suffers each time it is viewed.
The defendant was convicted of possessing more than 600 images of child pornography on his computer in violation of 18 U.S.C. §2255. The collection included an image of a child known as “Vicky” being subjected to unspeakable abuse at the hands of her own father. Now an adult, Vicky’s identity was confirmed through the N.C.M.E.C. data base, and the government informed her that her image had been found viewed by the defendant on his computer.
At the defendant’s sentencing, the government moved for restitution for Vicky, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2259(a), for the cost of past psychological services and cost of future counseling and therapy. The government offered an expert on the impact of psychological trauma who diagnosed her with the following psychological disorders:
• Post traumatic stress disorder,
• dissociative disorder, and
• depression and
• “opined that Vicky’s knowledge that her images are being disseminated on the Internet causes Vicky to suffer a continuing trauma that he compared to an ongoing slow acid drip.”
The district court ordered restitution finding that she was a victim of the defendant’s possession of child pornography and that “Vicky suffers every time the child pornography containing her image is traded and viewed” and ordered that he pay Vicky $12,500 in restitution. The appellate court upheld the restitution order concluding that Vicky was a victim and that the defendant’s conduct contributed to the “proximate cause” of the victim’s harm. Each time the victim is notified by MCMEC that her image was found on someone’s computer, it exacerbates Vicky’s trauma and emotional distress.
If you or a love one has been accused of committing an internet crime contact the Swartz Law Firm for immediate assistance in preparing your defense by an attorney specializes in criminal defense.